Mandan’s Megan Zander and Century’s Lilly Keplin are two of the best basketball players North Dakota has produced in recent years. The two former rivals are now joining forces to play at the University of North Dakota. Keplin and Zander were home over the fourth of July weekend and I caught up with them to see how they feel after getting their first taste of college basketball.
“It’s kind of nice,” Keplin said. “It’s kind of surreal. We’ve had opportunities to go [into the Betty] and shoot because we have to make 2,000 shots a week.”
From seeing their names on their lockers to all the free clothing, both say they feel like celebrities.
“It didn’t really seem real at first,” Zander said, “but as the week kept going on it was like, ‘This is actually what I do now and where I go.'”
They say the game has sped up, but the practices are a lot different from high school.
“Like in high school,” Keplin said, “you go get water and you’re like sitting and talking. It’s like, ‘Get your water and get back We are starting the next drill.'”
“No standing around at all,” Zander said. “It’s go, go, go.”
Then — in a moment of honesty — both said they said there were not ready to step into a college game yet.
“Like in high school,” Keplin said, “there’s maybe one or two good players on the team and you have to guard one of them. There’s like 10 girls on the court that all can play.”
“Like in the scrimmages,” Zander said, “you have to push yourself and try new things because everybody there is just as good as you now.”
The current roster only has one senior on a team that went 12-19 last season, so both have an opporunity to compete for playing time and possibly a starting spot.
“Technically eight freshman because one girl is a redshirt sophomore,” Keplin said. “So she’ll be graduating with us.”
“I think there’s four sophomores and three juniors,” Zander said.
Zander and Keplin said the will have a little time off before they head back to Grand Forks.