Sure, there was chatter, in local basketball circles, that the post presence that is Emilie Lafond would be heading south of the border to pursue her hardcourt dreams.
The 6'3" native of Hanmer, however, was having none of it.
Just a few weeks back, the imposing inside talent for the Lo-Ellen Park Prep Knights of the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association (OSBA) confirmed her desire to remain at home, committing to the Laurentian Voyageurs, beginning with the 2020-2021 season.
"It's definitely easy to get caught up in the big lights of the NCAA, or even some of the bigger schools down south (in Ontario)," said Lafond. "But after a while, I knew that I wanted to play in Canada, I knew that I wanted to stay home."
"I never felt that need to go away for university and basketball," she added. "I love Sudbury and love playing basketball in the north. I just wanted to keep being a part of it."
"After I did my visit at Laurentian, I clicked with the school, I knew that's where I wanted to go. It was the right fit for me. And being able to play in front of friends and family was definitely a big thing for me."
Lafond will join fellow Sudburian Arielle Douillette (Macdonald-Cartier) in suiting up for coach Jason Hurley, having already enjoyed some exposure to the Voyageur program through the years.
"I played against Arielle, in high-school, and I also played rep with her," noted Lafond. "But I have also gone a few times during the summer and put in work with some of the girls, so I've had a chance to meet them and developed friendships with some of them."
Pursuing a degree within the challenging L.U. nursing program, Lafond has the potential to enjoy an impact, right from the start of her OUA career, though she knows that much of that depends on her.
"I know that I'm going to have to work for the minutes that I end up getting," suggested the 17 year old local who joined fellow Knight Delaney Bourget in cracking the Team Ontario roster last summer.
"It's all going to depend on how much work I put in. I want to keep expanding my game, to push my game out to the perimeter to be able to take my defenders out there," Lafond continued. "I know in the OUA, there will be quite a few tall girls, definitely some that are taller than me, so if I need to, I want to be able to force them to face me up out on the perimeter."
Coming off a summer of working her game with the Kia Nurse Elite Nike Youth Basketball League, Lafond is thankful for the opportunity to simply continue playing a game that she loves.
"I want to thank my parents for all of the support and encouragement that they have always given me, really pushing me to become the best player that I could be," she said. "Also, I want to thank coaches Bruce and Jen Bourget for the countless hours that they have put in to help me get better."