Phillips' Path Finally Finds Herself in Cincinnati

For April Phillips the third time was the charm as she has found a home at Xavier

For April Phillips the third time was the charm as she has found a home at Xavier

Dec. 11, 2008

By Adam Kiefaber

CINCINNATI - Two years ago this month, April Phillips was attending her second college in as many years.

She had transferred from Georgia Tech to Florida A&M, but wasn't happy.

One of the schools that received her release was Xavier. The XU coaching staff did their research and decided to contact Phillips.

Phillips had ironically just watched the Musketeers on television when the team's assistant coach Mike Bradbury, now the head coach at Morehead State, gave her a call.

"Right before I had been contacted from Coach Bradbury, I had just watched Xavier on television and I checked out their schedule. I noticed that they played a really tough schedule even though they weren't in one of the big conferences. I really liked that," Phillips said.

While watching XU play ball, she noticed that the team played hard and liked the demeanor of head coach Kevin McGuff. It wasn't long before she decided to transfer again, this time to Xavier.

"It was a nice coincidence that they called me back," she said.

Originally from Long Beach, Calif., Phillips had verbally committed to the University of Southern California as a junior in high school. However, a coaching change at USC left Phillips reconsidering her options.

On an AAU trip to Atlanta, she developed a love for the city. That combined with a desire to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and GTECH's solid business program had sold the life-long California kid to the southern capital. Her mom would soon follow.

What seemed like a perfect choice didn't work out as planned and in order to stay close to her mom in Atlanta, April headed south on I-75 to Tallahassee, home of the Florida A&M Rattlers.

After that didn't work out, she decided to remain a drivable distance away from Atlanta and found that spot off I-75 in Cincinnati.



"I have said it before, but it is like the "Three Bears." One was too hot, one was too cold, but this one is just right. I just feel really comfortable here and I feel like I have made a really good choice," Phillips said.

Recently, in the 65-55 loss to rival Cincinnati on Dec. 6, Phillips led her team with 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. The 16 points tied a career best. It was her second straight double-double after recording 12 points and 12 rebounds in the 69-44 win over Akron two days earlier. On the season, Phillips is averaging 8.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

"She is a really talented player. This year she looks more comfortable playing in our system and each game she looks better and better. She brings us great energy and great passion," McGuff said.

When she first arrived last year, due to transfer rules, she wasn't eligible to play until late December. However, an unexpected October knee surgery slowed her progress.

"Last summer, I worked really hard to be in the best shape of my life in December, but I got back-tracked because I had to have knee surgery in October just before I became eligible. That set me back a lot," she said.

Despite the knee problems, Phillips made an impact right away, scoring seven points in a one-minute span in her first game wearing a Xavier uniform. She finished the season averaging 6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. In the 23 contests she played in, XU won 18 of them.

This season, Phillips is excited. She is healthy and improving with each game.

Her improvement has been key this season after the knee injury to Amber Harris, which has caused the star player to miss the entire season thus far and possibly will prevent her from playing at all this season.

Phillips will go for her third straight double-double this Sunday when the Musketeers take on Michigan State at 2 p.m. in the Cintas Center.