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Eugene starts and shines as a freshman
Former Destrehan star is learning the ropes at Southern Miss
By Michael Luke -   July 13, 2006

After starring at Destrehan, now, Amber Eugene is turning heads at Southern Miss.
After starring at Destrehan, now, Amber Eugene is turning heads at Southern Miss.

Amber Eugene is learning how different life is as a college athlete. The 5'7 point guard from St. Rose has just finished her first season as a college basketball player.

"College ball is a lot of work, a real lot of work; it is very different for high school ball; it's a 24/7 experience," said Eugene. "Even in the off-season you have to practice and work hard. The practices are intense."

While the work load may be more difficult and demanding, it has not deterred Eugene, who was one of the leading scorers on the Golden Eagles. Eugene shot .430 from the floor and averaged nearly 10 points per game.

With statistics as such, Eugene was vital in helping the Lady Eagles begin a resurgence in Hattiesburg, Miss. After a dismal season the year before, the Golden Eagles were able, with a very young lineup, to finish 14-15, nearly making an appearance in NCAA Tournament, losing in Conference USA semifinals.

In addition to the rigors of playing college basketball at a major university, Eugene also had to face the challenge of being merely a freshman and starting. "In the beginning of the season, I wasn't on the same page as everyone else. But as the season went on, I stopped worrying about the things that I couldn't control and motivated myself," said Eugene.

Eugene is used to success, as a standout at Destrehan High School. Under Coach Ulysses Frontha, she was a four-year letter winner, averaging 15.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Eugene was a two-time all-district and all-metro player. She was also named River Parish MVP and was named Destrehan's Female Athlete of the Year.

Eugene credits her older brother, Jaszmine, who played at Mississippi College, as essential in helping her develop into a college player. "He told me important things to get me through the season."

Her outstanding performance in high school is beginning to translate into a promising collegiate career. But will it mean a trip to WNBA? "I'm not really sure, but if I don't make it, I want to stay around basketball or some other sport."

Studying Kinesiology, a sports science major, Eugene already has backup plans in mind should her dream of playing professional basketball go unfulfilled.

While making it to the ultimate level in her sport is important for her, Eugene is not a one-track athlete, as she remains a grounded person who is looking to develop herself beyond the court.

"When I was in high school all that I could think about was playing pro basketball. Now, as I get older, I realize there are more important things than basketball, like focusing on school," said Eugene.

Whether on the courts of the WBNA or on the sidelines of a major sporting event, it seems very likely that Eugene will continue to make her mark on the world and, at the same time, make St. Rose proud.

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