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Skipworth is on the radar as college recruit

Brian Achatz
Pensacola News Journal

Violette Skipworth has dreamed most of her life about playing college basketball.

Through her prep career at Pace – and certainly during a busy summer on the AAU circuits – that dream has shifted to a goal that’s well within reach.

The 5-foot-11 versatile playmaker has gained heavy interest from seven programs, which include UWF, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Birmingham Southern and has earned two consecutive PNJ All-Area selections.

She will attend an invitational event at 17th annual Comin For That No. 1 Spot Showcase in Estero.

(0) shoots during the Crestview vs Pace Region 1-6A quarterfinal girls basketball game at Pace High School on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020.

“I was on varsity as a freshman and didn’t play, but in the middle of my sophomore year I saw myself grow as a player,” Skipworth said. “I was nervous, but I kept getting better. Last year (junior year), I felt like if I kept working hard, I could do this. Ever since I started playing basketball, I wanted to go play in college somewhere.” 

Skipworth has earned a reputation as a double-double machine and finished last year with team high’s with 14.5 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game. Her sophomore year she averaged 14.0 ppg and 9.4 rpg.

That type of production has translated well to AAU this summer with BC Elite. Skipworth normally plays AAU with Santa Rosa Elite, but the organization did not have enough players in her age group to build a team this summer.

BC Elite picked up Skipworth temporarily to fill a roster spot early this summer, but after her first performance, it became a permanent fill.

Skipworth has competed in four AAU tournaments this summer, helping BC Elite win one championship and finish as runner-up in another.

“At first it felt different getting used to different players and coaching style; I’ve played for Santa Rosa Elite every summer since I moved here and they have helped mold me into the player I am.” Skipworth said. “But in the first minute of the first game, it felt normal. We’ve played in some big games in some big places, I’ve had some double-doubles and I’ve enjoyed it.”

Skipworth said that college recruiters primarily see her as a stretch-4 and admire her strength and aggressive style of play.

She’s heavily focused on improving her ball handling, extending the range of her jump shot, adding consistency and stamina before she begins her college career.

But in the nearer future, she is striving to maintain the new standard at Pace, which concluded a banner year last season as the Patriots captured just the fifth district title in 48 years.

It was the first time the Patriots hosted a playoff game since 2005. The team finished 21-7 and ranked No. 14 in Class 6A, according to MaxPreps.

“We’ve got to fill in a little depth, but we all have a lot of heart and are striving to keep us where we left off,” Skipworth said. “It makes me sad, because high school has gone by fast. But it also makes me want to be better, so as a senior, I can help everyone around to be the best we can be.”

Crestview vs Pace Region 1-6A quarterfinal girls basketball game at Pace High School on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020.

Pace head coach Greg Gill said Skipworth has a unique blend of tangible and intangible skills that are valuable to any program.

"She's a fierce competitor," Gill said. "She's not a quiet leader. I've seen her step up over the years and demand the most from her teammates. In the last six or nine months, I've seen her grow so much as a student of the game. She sends me sets that she sees pro teams doing that interest her. If she finds a skill she wants to learn or improve, she talks with her coaches about what she needs to do.

"She's grown from being a post player, to someone that can be consistent shooting outside. She can handle the ball and go coast to coast. She's getting to the point where it's going to be hard to find a weakness in her."

Skipworth plays in her final AAU tournament this weekend in Tennessee and is going on her first official college visit in October to Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas.

Brian Achatz can be reached at bachatz@pnj.com.