04 Feb

Southington’s Meier bound for Bentley basketball

Former Southington High girls basketball star Hartlee Meier, now at Marianapolis Preparatory School in Thompson, will further her athletic and academic missions through a full scholarship to Division II Bentley University next year.

Meier, who averaged 12.7 points per game and dropped in 51 three-pointers for the 2016-17 Blue Knights, was offered by Bentley in the July before her junior season and verbally committed in May. She will sign her National Letter of Intent this Friday.

Guided by her father Kevin, a former minor league baseball pitcher, and her experiences on the travel-ball circuit, the 5-foot-8 shooting guard decided to transfer to Marianapolis Prep, a boarding school that once belonged to the CIAC but now plays in the New England Prep School Athletic Council.

Marianapolis is coached by Lauren Moore, a two-time New Hampshire Gatorade Player of the Year and former star at Bentley under legendary coach Barbara Stevens. Stevens has a 983-274 record over 40 years of coaching and won the NCAA Division II title in 2014.

“Last spring, I was playing AAU (Connecticut Attack) and basically I want to keep growing before I play in college,” Hartlee said. “I spent so much time with my AAU coach (ex-University of Hartford star Ulysses Garcia) and I wanted to make sure I kept all the skills that he brought upon me.

“I talked to Coach Moore. She also coaches AAU – the New England Crusaders – and the majority of the girls on that team play for Marianapolis. [At Marianapolis], I’m at the gym every night and it’s real close by. It’s more like a college atmosphere. Two of the other seniors are committed to D1 and the younger players are still getting recruited. I like being surrounded by that. The coach is always in school so she’s easy to contact and talk to.”

Moore received a call about Hartlee from a trusted Bentley assistant.

“She said a young woman who made a verbal commitment was looking for a potential place to spend her last year playing in high school and whether we had any opportunities for her,” Moore said. “Knowing the great people the coaches recruit, we said we had an opening.

“Hartlee came and she was the perfect fit. I’m excited to not only get a great basketball player. She’s great in the dorm and a dedicated student, everything Marianapolis is looking for.”

Moore hasn’t actively coached this year’s team yet, but has seen Hartlee perform in open gym.

“I haven’t figured [her role] out yet,” Moore said. “She can shoot and she has a high basketball IQ. Her poise on the court is something special as someone who is new to the school and the team. She’s dedicated to the game, she’s passionate about it and her experience is going to be essential.”

Hartlee said her father’s experience through his college recruitment and time in baseball were valuable as she contemplated her future. Kevin, a 20th-round selection by the San Francisco Giants in 1987, pitched at Georgia Southern and UConn before spending nine seasons on the minor league circuit. He progressed as far as Triple-A with the Giants, Cardinals and Rockies.

“[Hartlee] committed early so she could play her AAU season and enjoy it,” he said. “Recruiting was overwhelming and she had a good experience with [Garcia and the Attack]. There was a lot of communication and she was glad to get it over with.”

Hartlee said her father’s advice on time management was a crucial factor throughout the process.

 “He mentioned that in college, especially the first couple of years, it was often difficult to manage classes with sports due to the time and attention needed for both,” she said. “I know in D1, there’s a lot of travel and time away from class. I would like to possibly play professionally someday overseas, but I’m going to focus on getting my degree in business and my MBA.”

Leaving Southington High was difficult.

“I knew I needed to go to Marianapolis because it would benefit me long-term, but I would miss my close-knit group of friends and the atmosphere at Southington,” she said. “Now I’m meeting a lot of new people and I like living on campus. I feel like I have more control and I have to be more independent.”

Hartlee finished three seasons of varsity play at Southington with 423 career points and 86 threes in 59 games. She entertained a variety of college options before deciding on Bentley.

“I was recruited by several D1 schools — the Ivys, Patriot League, Big East, MAAC and the Northeast Conference — and took visits,” she said. “I was also recruited by several D2 and D3 schools in the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference). At the end of the day, I liked the Division II overall philosophy, which focuses more on balancing the athletic and academic aspects of a student-athlete.

“Bentley is one of the top business schools in the country and it was the size of school I was looking for with small class sizes. And I really like the Boston area. It’s a great college town and close to home where I can come back and my parents can watch me play.”

Bentley is located in Waltham, Mass., nine miles west of the city.