By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
There were times in the past couple of years when Bailey O’Bryan had no desire to pursue her dream of playing basketball at the college level.
Those moments, however, never seemed to really last very long.
“I felt like I was kind of tired and worn out on it, but I realized I wasn’t ready to give up,” said O’Bryan, a senior guard at Madison Central. “I couldn’t see myself not playing for the next four years of my life.”
Driven by the encouragement of her parents and the Central coaching staff, O’Bryan didn’t give up on basketball. The guard had a very solid senior season and last week signed a national letter of intent to play for Alice Lloyd College.
O’Bryan was also drawing interest from Union College and Midway College.
“She’s been with us basically since she was in the sixth or seventh grade,” Central coach Robbie Cooksey said. “She’s worked really, really hard these past couple of years. She’s always had the potential to play college basketball, but I didn’t know if she really wanted to. So, I was thrilled when she told me she wanted to play (in college).”
O’Bryan has been a part of a historic run of success for the Lady Indians’ program.
Central has won seven-straight district titles and also made three-straight appearances in the 11th Region Tournament title game (2011, 2012 and 2013). The Lady Indians won their first region title in 2011 and earned a return trip to the state tournament in 2013.
In the past four years, O’Bryan has been part of teams that won a total of 95 games — an average of 24 games a season.
“She knows how to win,” Cooksey said. “She knows how much effort you have to put in to win.”
O’Bryan cracked into the starting lineup full-time last season and averaged 6.5 points and 2.0 rebounds a game.
After the graduation a pair of Division I signees from last year’s team — Larryn Brooks (Indiana) and Ashton Feldhaus (Butler) — O’Bryan took on a bigger role this season, especially offensively.
She averaged 10 points, four rebounds and two assists a game. The senior had a team-best 10 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals in last week’s loss to Dunbar in the 11th Region Tournament in Frankfort.
“We had to fill big shoes that left, so I had to step in and fill in those shoes,” O’Bryan said.
The senior stepped up, and her play certainly caught the attention of college coaches.
Alice Lloyd women’s coach John Mills was at the Berea Holiday Classic this past December to scout another player, but he quickly took notice of the Central point guard.
“All of the sudden, all my attention was on her because of the way she ran the team,” Mills said. “As a point guard, you’ve got to have that ability to lead. And she didn’t shy away from that. That’s something you don’t find very often.”
Mills was impressed with O’Bryan’s defensive tenacity and ability to run the point. He expects her to get playing time next season as the main backup behind the team’s point guard — 2013 KIAC Player of the Year Carla Booth.
“She is thrilled to have her and she will take her under her wing and help her learn the college game,” Mills said of Booth, who will be a senior next season. “We can play both them and have two point guards on the court together.”
Alice Lloyd definitely appears to be a good fit for O’Bryan academically as well as athletically. The Central senior wants to study social work and the school offers a very strong program in that major.
“I love the campus and the deal was just too good to pass up,” O’Bryan said.