UNIVERSITY PARK — She’s affectionately called “Big Baby” by her Penn State coaches and teammates.
While she’s not remotely connected to NBA player Glen Davis, who made that nickname famous while at LSU, Candice Agee is big and the Lady Lions are expecting big things from their new 6-foot-6 center from California.
Agee, the lone freshman on the squad, has impressed in early season practices.
“She’s doing a great job,” Penn State assistant coach Kia Damon said at the team’s Media Day on Monday. “Candice is a very gifted scorer. At 6-6, you don’t really come across kids that have a knack for putting the ball in the basket like she does. As she gets in better shape, you’ll see her skills offensively and defensively come to the forefront.”
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Agee said the workouts have been the biggest adjustment since she’s arrived on campus. Strength and conditioning coach Brad Pantall puts the players through rigorous training.
“It is probably the hardest part,” said Agee. “I’m like, ‘Wait, that was the warm-up?’ He’s like, ‘We haven’t even started yet.’ OK, how long do we have left? I was like counting down the days.”
But Agee sees the benefits. The Lady Lions’ uptempo offense, led by speedy point guards Alex Bentley and Dara Taylor, requires post players to hustle up and down the floor.
“I find myself having to keep up and usually I’m the one that’s leading,” said the former Silverado High School standout and McDonalds All-American. “I love it. It’s actually making me a lot faster. I wasn’t as fast two months ago as I am now. I find myself running up and down the court and I’m right there, instead of being a couple of paces behind and finishing last. I love that I’m watching myself getting better every day.”
Her teammates see Agee improving, too.
“She fits in really well,” guard Maggie Lucas said of Agee. “She’s unbelievable around the basket. She has a great touch and she loves the game. We’re just excited to have her.
“She’s brought in a lot of power and athleticism,” added forward Mia Nickson. “She’s really big in there. She owns the paint.”
Though she is the only new player — transfer Dara Taylor sat out last season, but practiced with the team — Agee feels like she fits in well. Possibly her biggest fault is being on West Coast time and sometimes needing a jolt from roommate Tori Waldner to get up in the morning.
“I’ve always been a pretty fast learner and I’ve built relationships over the year with the team,” Agee said. “I wasn’t meeting any strangers when I came. That was really good for me because me diving in blindly it would have gone a lot differently.”
Agee didn’t get the opportunity to play with her teammates during a trip to Europe because she was on her own trip, helping the U.S. Under 18 team win a gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship in Puerto Rico.
Agee can’t wait for the season opener against Howard on Nov. 11 to get here.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “I’m jittery. I’m like a little kid in a candy store — excited to get out here and play collegiate basketball for the first time.”
Just for tweets
The Lady Lions have several players — and recruits — who are prolific on Twitter.
Lucas has one of the more popular accounts, with almost 1,430 followers. She’ll tweet about a great dinner — she’s a self proclaimed foodie — parts of her day or pictures of her teammates.
“We have a great fan base,” Lucas said. “They definitely hit us up on Twitter a lot. They let us know they’re excited for the season. It’s very exciting for us just to know our fans are behind us. Even when it’s the offseason, they’re still thinking about us.”
“I don’t think I have that many followers (375 actually), but it’s always cool when people are like, ‘Hey, loved your game, love seeing you guys.’ The support is obviously the part that I love. That’s pretty cool.”
Gizelle Studevent is the team’s resident philosopher, tweeting out thoughts on a number of subjects. “You become what you feed your mind” is one recent pearl of wisdom.
“All of my classes are like critical thinking,” explained Studevent, who has more than 435 followers. “We talk a lot about issues that are going on in society. I like to take classes like that.
“I like to talk about a lot of issues that people don’t talk about. People talk a lot about reality shows or things that aren’t important. That’s just my opinion. I just like to address things and talk about things that I’m thinking about.”
Players have gotten an indication of their celebrity status on campus thanks to Twitter.
“It’s funny when you see one, ‘I just saw Maggie Lucas riding on the Blue Loop,’” said Lucas with a chuckle.
Now that the season is around the corner, Studevent doesn’t expect much of her time to be spent Tweeting.
“It goes way down,” she said. “The season is here and I’m really focused.”
On the mend
The only player unable to practice fully is forward Marisa Wolfe. The senior captain has struggled to overcome a reoccurring problem with concussions from last season. Wolfe, injured in preseason practice last fall, was limited to 22 games and just 243 minutes last season.
Wolfe said Monday she has been given no indication when she can resume full contact.