Monique McLean

Newport News, Va., which boasts natives such as Michael Vick and Ella Fitzgerald, has given St. John’s standout freshman guard Monique McLean.

McLean is one of the many promising additions to the women’s basketball team.

Along with being an honors student at Bruton High School, she was named Virginia’s player of the year in 2005 and was also named the region and district player of the year three times.

She averaged 22 points and eight rebounds at Bruton and lead them to the Regional Championship in 2004-2005 by averaging 27.6 points and eight rebounds per game; Bruton finished its season ranked No. 2 in the state.

In high school, McLean was labeled a tremendous talent and her team is confident that her athleticism will translate to the courts with the Red Storm.

“I think she’s a wonderful addition,” coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “She brings a new element to the team.”

McLean says that she has made adjustments to her game to adapt to her new team.

“I’ll still be taking the perimeter shots, but also will be going to the basket a lot more,” McLean said. “I’ve learned little things to make my shot better and to become a more complete player, like improving my dribbling.”

Although Barnes Arico says McLean has a natural ability to defend, she has made defense improvements in an effort to establish her presence on the team.

“I’ve worked on my defense and I’ve improved on communicating,” McLean said. “You have to talk to your defense.”

McLean said that the transition from high school to college basketball has been demanding, but she has learned to cope with the differences.

“High school basketball is not as intense,” McLean said. “In high school we go to practice for two hours, play the games and that’s it.”

McLean has had to make adjustments off the court, including battling homesickness and keeping up with the heavier academic work load.

“School is harder here which is good because it keeps you on the right track,” McLean said.

McLean has been balancing her busy schedule with old fashioned hard work.

“She’s a hard worker and she’s learning a lot from the rest of the team,” Barnes Arico said. “She wants to be a better player and she’s committed to improving.”

McLean credits her improvements to simply striving to be competitive and staying focused.

She says that Barnes Arico has kept her and the rest of the team mentally and physically conditioned.

“She wants to make sure that I work hard,” McLean said. “So she gets on me sometimes.”