After completing one of the most successful careers in Lady Dragon history, Harlan’s Ashley Mullins signed to played the University of the Cumberlands on Monday.
“The main reason I chose the University of the Cumberlands was the education. They have a really good biology program, and that is what I want to major in. Their team is amazing, and their girls were really welcoming when I went down there. I just felt like I fit in with them,” Mullins said. “Obviously, the competition will be a lot harder than at the high school level. There will be a lot more skill. It will be strange not playing with my team, but I will adjust.”
Mullins led the Lady Dragons to three straight 13th Region All “A” Classic titles and a 52nd District championship in 2011. She led the region with 20 points per game as a senior, and was named an AP all-state honorable mention.
“Ashley never had a bad day in practice. She is the ultimate leader and teammate. She is going to be missed in a lot of different ways. She has left some successful footprints for the girls to follow,” said Harlan coach Derrick Akal. “She has been very important and is going to stay important to this program.”
“One of the things about Ashley that I think is going to surprise some people is that she has so much potential and room for growth. She is smart and willing to work. I think the University of the Cumberlands is getting an excellent player.”
Mullins joins one of the top small college programs in the nation. The Patriots posted a 28-4 mark last year and ended the season ranked No. 6 in the NAIA poll. UC avenged one of the its losses by defeating Shawnee State 73-70 to claim the school’s third Mid South Conference championship in four years. A loss to Rogers State University in the first round of the NAIA Tournament ended the Patriots’ season.
We have a lot of Division I transfers and junior college players, but I think it is important to have freshman come in and be four year players when they are capable and their skill level is high enough,” said Cumberlands coach Melissa Irvin. “She is the premier freshman that we are signing. She was the first one that we offered this year. We waited this long to get her, but it was worth the wait.”
Cumberlands return both starters in the post, but Irvin said she expects Mullins to contribute next season.
“I think she will develop quickly because she is a smart and hard-working player. We expect her to play some minutes next year,” Irvin said. “She is going to be a post player for us, but we are also going to move her around the perimeter some during her career too. The fact that she has played on the perimeter some during her high school career is really going to benefit her in college.”
Irvin added that Mullins’ rare combination of size, talent and work ethic should make her successful at the collegiate level.
“You can find a lot of talented and athletic players, but sometimes you don’t find that heart,” she said. “I think Ashley has the skills and a tremendous upside, but her work ethic is really what drew me to her. Once we actually met her and found out the whole picture of her it was just the perfect package for us.”