Nov. 13, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Grace Coughlin has been waiting for this day for a long time. After all, the point guard from Benilde-St. Margaret's School verbally accepted Minnesota's scholarship offer following her freshman season at BSM in the summer of 2011.
This morning, Grace officially signed her name to a National Letter of Intent to play for the Golden Gophers, joining a class of four others who will become eligible beginning with the 2014-15 season.
"I'm very happy and proud that Grace is going to be a Golden Gopher," Borton said. "She committed after her freshman year, and it's been great getting to know her over the past three years. She has great leadership abilities and communication skills, she works hard, and she loves the University of Minnesota. Her skill level is unbelievable, and she's full of positive energy."
If you ask Coughlin's high school coach, Bob Lyons, where to find his star point guard, the answer comes easily - it's usually in the gym.
"The thing that separates Grace from her peers is her work ethic. She is a gym rat," Lyons said. "She is one of those players you actually try to keep out of the gym, because if you did not, she would be in there all of the time. She can't get enough of it. Her ball-handling skills are as good as any I have seen. She can go right, just as well as she can go left. The ball is part of her hand. She can do what she wants with it. She can be a pass-first point guard, but she has improved her game to where she can shoot well from the perimeter, too."
Coughlin was offered so early in her prep career because she proved herself on the big stage. As just a freshman, she helped lead Benilde-St. Margaret's to a third-place finish at the state tournament, earning a spot on the All-State Tournament team in the process.
As a sophomore, she was Honorable Mention All-State, and as a junior last season, Coughlin earned All-State accolades with averages of 19.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
"She committed to Minnesota early in the process and shut out a lot of other opportunities," Minnesota Stars AAU coach Mark Smith said. "Minnesota is where she wanted to play, and because of that, she will appreciate the opportunity and work that much harder. She is passionate about the game and the University of Minnesota is where she wants to be."
In the classroom, Coughlin is a member of BSM's Highest "A" Honor Roll, has served as her student council's Class President as a junior and senior, and her reasoning for choosing the University of Minnesota goes far beyond the Gophers' success on the court.
"I really wanted to attend a university with a great environment and a reputation for academic excellence," Coughlin said. "The U of M has so much to offer, including its culture, diversity and wide range of activities. I really didn't have to look very far."
"In addition to being a great school, I chose to attend the U of M because of Coach Borton and the rest of the coaching staff," Coughlin said. "Not only are they great coaches, they are great mentors who truly care about their players, Gopher women's basketball, and the University of Minnesota. These were the things that made the decision pretty easy for me when I looked at the U of M versus other schools."
Coughlin joins fellow Minnesotan Carlie Wagner in this year's signing class. The pair of guards played AAU ball together with the Minnesota Stars. As it was with Wagner's decision to remain close to home for college, Coughlin cited a desire to be able to see her family on a regular basis.
"I'm very close with my family, especially my two younger sisters, Allie and Olivia," she said. "I'm very excited to have the chance to watch them play basketball next year, and to see them at my games, cheering on the Golden Gophers!"
"Grace is a high-character kid who will set the bar high in regards to her work ethic," Lyons said. "She makes everyone else around her better. She has a charismatic personality that will rub off on the team, and she will be a great representative of the university."
Now that she's officially a member of the Golden Gophers, Coughlin can't wait to get started.
"What excites me the most is being able to play basketball in the best conference in the country," she said. "I've always wanted to play college basketball at the highest level, and to be able to play against the toughest competition in the country is exciting and an awesome challenge that I am looking forward to."
"Playing for Coach Borton and the rest of the coaches, while being part of the team we have at the U of M is super exciting," Coughlin added. "It's also an amazing opportunity to be able to put on the Maroon and Gold and to play for my home state of Minnesota. What Minnesota girl doesn't dream of playing for her home state?! I couldn't be more excited, and I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to play for such a great group of coaches, a great team, and for a great university."
--Michael Molde, Athletic Communications Assistant
More Information on Minnesota's Signing Class
Rangie Bessard: Story | Official Release | Fact Sheet | Borton Video | Loyd Video
Josie Buckingham: Story | Official Release | Fact Sheet | Borton Video | Riverso Video
Grace Coughlin: Story | Official Release | Fact Sheet | Borton Video | Roysland Video
Tory Jacobs: Story | Official Release | Fact Sheet | Borton Video | Loyd Video
Carlie Wagner: Story | Official Release | Fact Sheet | Borton Video | Roysland Video
Complete Signing Day Class
Banham's Jersey to Be Retired
The Gophers' all-time leading scorer will be honored at the Jan. 1 game against Maryland.
Media Day to Feature Facebook Live Show
Head coach Marlene Stollings and the Gophers will meet the media on Wednesday afternoon.
Wagner on Preseason All-B1G Team
The junior guard from New Richland, Minn., is the Gophers' returning scoring leader.