The first time Kathy Hunter saw Tyler Raysor walking the halls of Haddon Heights, she felt it was like an illusion.

"I saw her waving at me," said Hunter, the school's girls' basketball coach.

"And somebody said, 'That's Tyler.' So I went over to talk to her, and she told me she was transferring to Haddon Heights."

Hunter paused.

"Seriously," she said. "I was jumping up and down with joy."

The excitement wasn't just over Raysor's athleticism - polished enough to earn her a Division I scholarship to Rhode Island - or that at 6-foot-2 she is one of the state's tallest players.

It was her knowledge of the game, her understanding of what it takes to win - the impact Raysor was bound to have off the court.

"Tyler is such a leader," Hunter said.

"She's got a great personality. She's vocal. She has an awesome work ethic. And the kids love her. She's helping to raise the level of everyone on this team."

Raysor transferred from Trenton Catholic to Haddon Heights in October.

Her presence instantly turned the Garnets from a solid team into arguably the favorite in South Jersey Group 2.

As a freshman, Raysor saw varsity playing time with Trenton Catholic as it won the Tournament of Champions.

That journey helped solidify the senior's love for the game.

"It was just a great thing to experience at such a young age," Raysor said.

"The girls on that team were all going [Division I]; it was something that definitely increased my basketball IQ and taught me the intensity that it takes to be successful."

This preseason, that's largely what Raysor is trying to impart to her new team.

She said that the other players have been receptive and that she has learned a lot from them as well.

"I realize that these girls have so much heart and the ambition to win," Raysor said.

"And that was always big for me."

Raysor is particularly looking forward to playing with senior shooting guard Nadja Riggs.

The two are close friends and grew up playing basketball together. Thinking about the last time they were on the same team, Raysor laughed. It was in eighth grade and, yes, they won the championship.

"It feels like eighth grade all over again," Raysor said.

Riggs is an aggressive and talented scorer, and Raysor's presence should have a tremendously positive impact on her game.

"The attention that Tyler is going to draw is just going to open up so many opportunities for everyone else on the team," Hunter said.

Before she bumped into Raysor in a Haddon Heights hallway in October, Hunter knew her only as someone who occasionally was in the stands watching the Garnets play, supporting her hometown team and friends.

For the first 30 days of this season, because of the state's transfer rule, that won't change all that much.

Asked what's it's going to be like not to play for the first 30 days of the season, Raysor almost could not find the words to describe how much she'd rather be on the court.

She said she'll enjoy supporting her teammates and helping them any way she can. But she'll be dreaming, every day, of putting on a Haddon Heights uniform.

And when she finally does?

"The goal is to win Group 2," Raysor said. "After winning the T of C, I aim for nothing less than that."