Caroline Ducharme is healthy, excelling on the court, and college coaches — yes, UConn’s Geno Auriemma, and others from highly regarded Division 1 programs — are taking serious notice.
Auriemma was not in attendance Friday night — he took in last Saturday’s game in Barrington, R.I., against St. Andrew’s — when Ducharme and the Noble & Greenough girls’ basketball team took on host Buckingham, Browne & Nichols in an Independent School League matchup.
But the 6-foot-1 junior guard from Milton put on a show: 34 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots in a 64-52 win.
Ducharme tore an anterior cruciate ligament in April 2017, forcing her to miss the first part of her freshman season. In July 2018, she tore her shoulder labrum, sidelining her for her entire sophomore campaign.
Frankly, she’s thrilled to be healthy.
“It’s been going really well,” Ducharme said. “I’m happy to be back. It was a long road last year.”
Ducharme is a consensus top 40 player in the Class of 2021 despite missing 18 months of her high school career, and she is dominating for the Bullldogs (19-3), averaging close to 24 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks per game.
“She’s busted her butt for years and years, and despite facing really tough injuries,” Nobles coach Alex Gallagher said.
“Each year all she does is faces those injuries and thinks, ‘How am I doing to deal with this? How am I going to use it to get better?’ She’s done that relentlessly.”
Ducharme plays the point, but is a tremendous cutter without the ball. Her court vision is advanced, as is her defensive aptitude. She was the tallest player on the court against BB&N, but is by no means a post player.
After recovering from her injuries, she jumped from the Massachusetts-based MCW Starz to play for New York City Exodus in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, widely considered the best grassroots competition in the country. Four WNBA players have come from Exodus, and coach Thomas Davis said Ducharme very well could be the fifth.
“I don’t think she can be the next. I think she will be the next,” Davis said.
The injuries have not diminished her game.
Following the AAU season, Ducharme participated in SLAM Magazine’s Summer Classic last August, where she and Bridgewater-Raynham sophomore Shay Bollin played in a pickup game at Dyckman Park in New York City. Ducharme won the Queen of the Court and 3-point contests at the event. One video on the SLAM High School Instagram page garnered more than 112,000 views.
“I think any time women’s basketball gets attention, it’s really nice,” Ducharme said. “The SLAM, this was huge for women’s basketball. wSLAM, Overtime Women’s Basketball, all that stuff has been really good. It’s more [publicity] for women’s basketball.”
Pertinent national evaluators saw little to no drop off in her game following her setbacks.
“I thought she was terrific,” said Bret McCormick, founder and talent evaluator for ASGR. “She’s definitely one of the top players in her class, nation-wide.”
“She’s certainly done things to keep people interested,” added Dan Olson, Director of espnW HoopGurlz.
And that they are.
Ducharme has unofficially made visits to UConn, Stanford, Tennessee, Oregon, Oregon State, North Carolina, Maryland, and Michigan. She can start officially visiting schools a week after this year’s Final Four, and estimates committing before the end of this school year. Having offers from all the major programs makes it easier to navigate the recruiting process, a journey she’s trying to enjoy.
And she will not be alone on that journey. Her parents, Todd and Chrissy, both were athletes at Williams, and her older sister, Ashley, has started 15 of 20 games as a sophomore guard this season for Sarah Behn at Brown after being sidelined last year with injury. Younger brother Reid is a promising freshman at Nobles.
“I probably would’ve never gone to these cities, seeing what every school has to offer is pretty cool,” Ducharme said. “It’s nice to kind of . . . I’m in the driver’s seat, and I’m not in any rush, really. It’s about figuring out the best decision for me.”
Greg Levinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.