By Brian Paglia
Karmen Gunn was always sure about her college basketball future. The Luella senior knew she was going to play at Mercer, even if the plan meant a one-year detour to East Georgia College, a two-year school, until a scholarship and roster spot became available.
But Gunn's plan was expedited. Just before she planned to officially sign with East Georgia, Mercer called. A scholarship had opened up, the one Gunn signed at Luella High School on Monday, and her future suddenly accelerated.
She joins Henry County's Briana Williams, the two-time All-Southern Crescent Henry County player of the year, as part of Mercer's 2010 signing class.
"I was really shocked," Gunn said. "I wasn't expecting it. But I was happy about it at the same time."
Gunn had resigned herself to delay her career at Mercer and make the most of her time at East Georgia in the college's first year with a women's basketball program that would be closely affiliated with Mercer. Gunn said she felt she could've used the year to let her skills develop in preparation for playing Division I basketball.
"I didn't need to go to junior college, not for my grades," Gunn said, "but I knew I would get better in the process. I knew I was going to be better and be able to play, as opposed to at Mercer, I was thinking I would be able to play around my sophomore or junior year. I wasn't expecting to just come in and play."
But Gunn's coach at Luella, Greg Wilson, offers a different opinion.
"She's definitely quicker than anything they have," Wilson said. "I think she'll do real well. ... I honestly think that's somewhere she can step in and play."
Gunn can do this, Wilson said, because of her speed, but also because of the vast experience she accumulated as a three-year starter for the Lady Lions.
After her freshman year at Jones County in Macon, Gunn came to Luella and immediately made an impact. At point guard, Gunn helped the team advance to the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
Luella never missed the playoffs during Gunn's tenure despite playing in one of most formidable regions in Class AAAAA. It's part of what Gunn said made her time with the Lady Lions program so valuable.
"I learned a lot from Coach Wilson and my teammates," Gunn said. "I got to experience a lot, you know, going to the playoffs and stuff like that. I played against some good players.
"I feel like I set a good example for the players that were under me. It definitely was an experience that I would do all over again."
Said Wilson: "
She's a great person. ... She was a pleasure to coach. Always did everything you asked her to do and had a lot of passion for the game, and that's what you want as a coach."