For Maine South senior and recent Cornell commit Emily Pape, being unpredictable is a matter of habit.
Pape had steady Division II and Division III interest going into and through her shortened 2021 junior season. The 6-1 Pape also garnered the interest of programs like Evansville, Brown University and Cornell.
A natural left-hander, Pape already brings a degree of surprise to the game
in attacking the basket with a variety of different left-handed looks. Heading into her senior season, she wants to prepare in a way that will greatly assist her n her college transition.
“I’m left-handed and I love my left, as all lefties do,” Pape said. “Being … harder to guard, unpredictable. I just want to be unpredictable, be able to fake left and then go right. I will go right, but a lot of people know that I like to go left.”
Maine South coach Jeffrey Hamann has seen that hunger for growth as long as he’s known Pape, whose freshman sister Ally Pape is now also in the program.
“She just wants to be really good,” Hamann said. “She’s always had the goal to be a college basketball player ever since I met her. That was … she really really really worked for that. She wanted that really bad.”
When isolated from others early in the pandemic – Pape said that she worked a great deal with her sister – Pape would get outside when possible to shoot, work on ball-handling and add other skills to her repertoire. The sisters served as each others’ rebounders during shooting drills.
Off the court, Pape’s curiosity in the environment also grew during the pandemic.
“I’m taking right now an environmental science class in high school, and I’m super interested in it,” Pape said. “Over quarantine I was doing some research about it and I watched some documentaries. I just became super interested in it and passionate about it, and that’s why I came across Cornell.”
Pape said her Full Package Athletics coach and trainer Steve Pratt encouraged her to look specifically for college programs that offered environmental science majors. After visiting Evansville in June and garnering extensive looks from other programs in the summer, Pape went on an unofficial visit to Cornell in August and then an official visit the weekend of Sept. 26. She committed right after the visit, on Monday, Sept. 27.
“The coaches and players have made the decision so easy because on the unofficial visit I had just met the coaches,” Pape said. “The players weren’t there yet. They were awesome. They were super welcoming. On the official visit I had met the players and hung out with them for the day and they were super cool.
“I went to a class with one of them,” she continued. “They were just so genuine. They really cared. I had just met them and it felt like I was so close with them already. I had a good connection with a lot of the players, and even the two other recruits that were there were already committed. That was cool to be there with them and spend some time with future teammates.”
As a junior with a largely talented Hawks team a season ago – Maine South went 14-3, and 10-0 to win the CSL
– Pape averaged a team-high 13 points and 3.3 steals. She also had 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and shot 75% from the free throw line in 17 games.
With a team that featured a handful of players capable of playing college basketball – Ellie Ronan will play at Oglethorpe this season – Pape stood out, heading the top of Maine South’s press and providing a variety of abilities that enhanced how the Hawks operate offensively.
“She has the athleticism, the length, the quickness,” Hamann said. “She’s able to go inside and outside. When you have that combination, and she’s a lefty … when you have that combination of size, athleticism and the ability to go inside and out, you have the potential to play big-time college basketball.”
Hamann, heading into his fourth season as Hawks head coach, notes that Pape has an uncanny ability to guard players of differing size and skill-sets.
“She might be at the top of her press at some point in her career (at Cornell), just as she is with us,” Hamann said. “She’s so long and athletic. She definitely led us in deflections and tipped balls. We keep that stat. She’s a really good passer too, so she’ll deflect, get the steal, find a teammate. She’s able to get the ball in transition and attack the basket hard. She’s able to step out and hit a three. She’s able to go inside and score against people in the paint as well.”
Loyola Academy’s Summer Parker-Hall is currently beginning her first season at Cornell, where Pape will presumably join up with her as the lone Illinois natives on the roster.
Heading into this prep season, the Hawks’ aspirations remain high. Pape feels the Hawks’ depth will be as strength as they defense a CSL title.
“We have a super deep bench this year, and I think we just have a lot of energy going into it,” Pape said. “Everybody wants to be there. Everybody works really hard. I think we’re just going to have a really fun season, and I think we’re going to be really successful in our conference.”