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Anna-tude

Anna Prillaman is competitive, composed and confident without being cocky -qualities the Virginia women's basketball program hopes will make her a star.

Prillaman, a 5-foot-9 guard from Midlothian High near Richmond, will arrive at Virginia next fall with some lofty credentials already to her name. She led the Trojans' girls' basketball team to a Virginia AAA state title in March, earning her three State Player of the Year awards. Prillaman also was given All-Academic honors and the Player of the Year awards for the Central Region and All-Metro Richmond area.

What has made Prillaman so successful? Certainly there is her shooting ability - she averaged 15.7 points per game for her senior season and is the leading scorer in Midlothian history with 1,584 total points. In the state championship game, Prillaman scored 20 points, including eight consecutive points in the fourth quarter that drove the Trojans to victory over Robinson High.

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    According to Midlothian coach Doug Garrett, Prillaman's strengths come in distributing the ball and making necessary adjustments on the court, all while keeping admirable poise.

    "Anna doesn't force the ball," said Garrett, who was named the AAA State Coach of Year. "She sees who needs to get involved and makes those adjustments. It's amazing how her composure, her air of self-confidence, affects the rest of the team. She uses her gift to make the players around her stronger."

    Virginia assoc. coach Shawn Campbell, who was primarily responsible for recruiting Prillaman, also expects her superior court sense to smooth her transition to the college game.

    "We have great shooters on our team, but she brings the ability to pass and see the floor," Campbell said. "I think she brings things that you don't see on the stat sheet."

    Prillaman's seemingly unbounded and eclectic athletic ability also has played a major role in her achievement. At Midlothian she lettered in five varsity sports: basketball, cross country, track, volleyball and tennis. In addition to her numerous basketball accomplishments, Prillaman earned distinction as Dominion District Player of the Year in tennis.

    "I've coached for 23 years, and she is probably the most gifted, natural athlete I have ever coached," Garrett said.

    But according to Prillaman, her edge lies in her personality and style on the court. She claims her seemingly innocuous style of play may fool her opponents.

    "I smile a lot," Prillaman said. "I have fun while I'm out there just doing what I love to do. But I'm very competitive - I know the smile ticks my opponents off. That's how I get under their skin.

    "My style is to let the game come to me. That's why most of the time in the first quarter I don't have many points. The defense thinks they've got me, but then I come back and surprise them."

    As one of the nation's outstanding prep guards, Prillaman was recruited by top programs across the country but chose to come to Virginia to fulfill a childhood dream.

    "I've wanted to go to U.Va. since I was really little," she said. "And with the coach, the way they do every year and the chemistry of the girls, it has the strongest basketball program that I have seen."

    Campbell, a 16-year coaching veteran, said Prillaman has the potential to become a Virginia great. Although he said she may not start in her first season, Campbell expects Prillaman to make a significant contribution to the Cavs as they make a run at a Conference championship.

    "The sky is the limit for Anna Prillaman," Campbell said. "I know what builds championships. This kid is a champion."

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