Pursued by dozens of college basketball programs, Emily Queen fully expected to take all five of her official visits.

She didn't make it past the first.

For Rose Hill Christian School's talented, bright and personable senior, the moment of realization hit her like a ton of bricks several weeks ago on the Middle Tennessee campus in Murfreesboro.

“I was walking to a meeting and this feeling just came over me,” Queen recalled. “I was in tears. Talking to my dad (Rob Queen), I was so relieved. I knew that's where God wanted me to be.”

Queen plans to make it official on Nov. 8, the first day of the early signing period.

Both strong and versatile, the 6-foot-1 Queen has already amassed more than 2,300 points and nearly 1,200 rebounds in her high school career. Last season, she averaged a double-double for the third consecutive year and helped Rose Hill become the smallest school to reach the state championship game.

Recruiting interest continued to rise and Queen eventually narrowed her list to five schools. Along with Middle Tennessee — enrollment 22,554 — she also scheduled official visits with Sun Belt Conference rival Western Kentucky, Davidson and Eastern Kentucky. The fifth was going to be Vanderbilt or Cincinnati, but Queen's stay in Murfreesboro convinced her not to make the other trips.

She said it wasn't easy notifying the other schools of her decision.

“But I thought it would be doing them an injustice taking the visits because I couldn't see anything changing my mind,” said Queen, who is considered one of the top candidates for Kentucky’s Miss Basketball Award this season.

Jim Underwood, director of Blue Chip All-Star Camps in Louisville, said Middle Tennessee got a steal in Queen.

“Emily is a very athletic player who understands the game and can play multiple positions,” Underwood said. “We have her rated as the best player in her graduating class, but more importantly she is a super young lady and role model.''

Rose Hill coach Pam Euton often refers to Queen as a jewel.

“She's an outstanding person as well as a great player,” Euton said. “Emily has a great attitude and the determination to succeed in whatever she does.”

Queen’s college choice was no surprise to her coach.

“Middle Tennessee was the first school that came to watch Emily and they really stayed in contact with her,” Euton said. “I think that had a big impact on Emily and her family.”

Queen, also a top student, made an unofficial visit to MTSU last season when the Blue Raiders played Western Kentucky. Her initial concern about the distance from home — 5 1/2 hours — faded over time.

“I’m really close to the coaching staff,” said Queen, who was recruited by assistant coach Allison Clark. “I agree with how they do things. The players, facilities and people there are great. I don't think I could be that comfortable anywhere else.”

Middle Tennessee went 20-11 last season and advanced to the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Sun Belt coaches picked the Blue Raiders to finish first in the East Division this season.

“They had a Top 10 recruiting class this year and the goal is to make it to the Final Four,” Queen said.

When Queen gets to MTSU, she plans to make an immediate impact.

“It's not like I’m going to wait for a senior to graduate,” Queen said. “If I go down there and work hard, I'm going to have a starting position. I like a challenge, and that’s going to be a really good one.”

Euton calls her a tenacious rebounder and competitor who can play anywhere on the court.

“She’s had to bring the ball down the court for us and she has played on the wing and outside,” Euton told The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro after Queen made a verbal commitment. “I think she’s the best player in the state. She doesn’t get as much press because we’re a smaller school, but she is an unbelievable talent.”

Rick Bolus’ Scouting Service lists Queen as the state’s No. 2 prospect behind Rebecca Gray of Scott County.

Queen, who holds Rose Hill single-game records with 46 points and 26 rebounds, is happy to have the recruiting process out of the way so that she can enjoy her final high school season.

“Ever since my junior year started it’s been overwhelming,” Queen said. “I'm thankful to be in that position, but it’s so stressful. Now I don’t have to worry. I know I’ve made the right decision.”

Although Queen is excited about attending Middle Tennessee, it’s difficult for her to think about leaving the closeness of a small school she has attended since kindergarten.

“It’s my 14th year,” she said. “This school is like my second family.”

Two older siblings graduated from Rose Hill, while younger brother Michael is a seventh-grader there.

“That's going to be really hard,” Queen said of leaving Michael behind. “He's one of my best friends.”

Queen said family support has been vital to her success.

“My dad’s been such a major factor in my basketball career,” she said. “He has sacrificed so much for me. He puts so much into it and just wants me to be the best I can be.”

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.

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