Maddie Burke got her first basketball scholarship offer from Seton Hall at a camp in the summer before her freshman year of high school.
At the time, she didn’t know what a scholarship was and had to have it explained by her father.
Now, the Central Bucks West senior knows exactly what it means after she orally committed to Penn State last June and signed her letter of intent in November.
Burke, a 6-foot guard, said she didn’t know the exact number of scholarship offers she had received over the years because she had so many.
It wasn’t until her junior year that she finally realized what it was all about.
“That’s when I started testing for SATs and stressing about SAT scores, when I was looking at colleges I knew I had offers and that I was OK,” Burke said.
Burke said that through much of her recruiting process, Villanova, Maryland and Florida were among her top choices with Penn State -- who offered Burke a scholarship during her sophomore year -- lingering in the back of her mind.
When the Nittany Lions parted ways with long-time coach Coquese Washington last March and hired former Marquette coach Carolyn Kieger in April, Burke put Penn State back in the main mix.
“The new coaching staff came in and were like, ‘Let’s just meet up one time and talk,’ ” said Burke, whose Central Bucks West Bucks get a bye in Friday’s first round of the District 1 playoffs and face the winner of Neshaminy and Pennridge in the second round on Wednesday. “I went up there, and we talked for about an hour, and I really liked their staff. And then we went up a couple months later, and we got a campus tour and got to know them better and thought, ‘Wow, I really like them.’ ”
Burke said that she would have most likely chosen another school had Penn State not made a coaching change.
She still considered them a “lingering” option because she had two aunts who went there and knew a lot of friends who were there already or will be incoming freshman.
In addition to the coaching staff, Burke said she wanted to go to a program where she will play right away, had good recruits before her arrival and was within driving distance from home.
“I have a twin sister, so we’re really close, and I wanted to stay close, at least driving distance from home. So that was a big thing,” she said.
Burke has been named to every all-star list imaginable and has been an invitee to the USA women’s national team and the World Cup team in recent years. Her latest accolade came when she -- and three other Penn State recruits -- was named a nominee for the McDonald’s All-American game, which was announced earlier this month.
Burke led to the Bucks to a 14-2 record and a perfect 10-0 in the the Suburban One Continental conference this season and clinched the regular-season title by scoring a game-high 15 points in a 56-46 win over North Penn on Jan. 31.
Having made her college choice, Burke has been able to focus on just basketball during her senior year. But she’s excited for what’s ahead.