DuBOIS, Pa. (EYT/D9) — It wasn’t long ago when Frances Milliron didn’t even think she would be attending college, let alone playing basketball at one.
But things have a way of working out in the most unexpected ways.
(Clarion-Limestone grad and Penn State DuBois freshman guard Frances Milliron takes a shot over Moniteau grad and Butler County Community College sophomore Aslyn Pry/photo courtesy of Penn State DuBois)
Just ask the Clarion-Limestone graduate and freshman guard on the Penn State DuBois women’s basketball team.
“To be honest, I almost didn’t go to college — I’ve never been a big school person,” Milliron said. “But when I applied to DuBois, I filled out a scouting form for (Penn State DuBois women’s basketball coach Pat Lewis) and he instantly emailed me back and told me that he wanted to meet. I went and took a tour and I met with him and he just really persuaded me to come. He was persistent.”
Lewis dogged pursuit paid off.
And Milliron has found a home on the Penn State DuBois campus and with the Lions.
After a slow start — for herself and the team — Milliron is flourishing.
She’s leading the team in scoring at 13.2 points per game and also tops Penn State DuBois in shooting percentage and assists.
Milliron has helped out on the glass, too, average five rebounds per game for the Lions, who have won three of their last six after an 0-4 start.
A boost in confidence has helped her adjust to a whole new level of basketball.
“There’s definitely a big skill level difference going from high school to college,” Milliron said. “Everyone’s here to play. Everyone’s been playing for awhile and everyone’s pretty much at the same skill level. I think learning how I could deal with that and just getting confident in my ability was definitely a big key.”
It wasn’t always easy.
While she was aggressive in high school for Clarion-Limestone, where she averaged nearly 15 points per game as a senior, Milliron was timid at times early on at Penn State DuBois.
She was passing up open shots.
And Lewis let her know about it.
“I have a tendency sometimes to pass the ball, or try to force a pass when I have a shot. He’s really tried to get me more confident in my shot,” Milliron said. “He’s been pretty persistent on trying to get me to shoot.
“I think I’m shooting a little bit more than when I was in the beginning of the season,” Milliron said. “There’s still sometimes when I pass it and I look over to him and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I should have shot that.’”
It’s all been part of the learning process for the 5-foot-6 guard.
After all, she didn’t expect to play beyond high school.
Still, when she knew she was going to give it a try at Penn State DuBois this offseason, Milliron went to work.
She focused mainly on her ballhandling — a must for every player at the collegiate level.
Milliron also spent a lot of time when she arrived bonding with her teammates.
It helps when you live with half the team.
Milliron shares an house with four of the 10 players on the Lions’ roster. That has certainly expedited the bonding.
“We’re like the basketball house,” Milliron said. “We instantly got along. We do a lot of things together.”
Milliron hopes they keep improving and winning together.
She’s in this for the long haul now. A criminal justice major, Milliron plans to one day be a state police officer or work in corrections.
Like playing basketball, Milliron never expected that to be a part of her future, even though that career path intrigued her as long ago as her sophomore year in high school.
“When they start getting you thinking about your career, it’s always been in the back of my head,” Milliron said. “It was something that I was like, ‘That sounds interesting.’ And when DuBois had the criminal justice program, I was like, ‘OK. Let’s do it.’”
Milliron said she’s grateful about how things have fallen into place for her.
“I’m really glad I decided to do this,” she said.