IUWBB: IU to add Rivet’s Grace Waggoner as preferred walk-on

Vincennes Rivet’s Grace Waggoner expected her talents on the basketball court to help pay for a good education.

It turns out, Waggoner’s academic talents helped her find an opportunity to play Big Ten basketball.

Waggoner, an Indiana Junior All-Star, will be a preferred walk-on for the IU women’s basketball program next season. She was awarded a Lilly Scholarship in December, which will pay her tuition.

While she will not be on an athletic scholarship, Waggoner essentially becomes the Hoosiers’ third in-state commit of the 2019 class, joining Warren Central point guard Shaila Beeler and Bedford North Lawrence forward Jorie Allen. IU is also bringing in posts Mackenzie Holmes (Maine) and Arielle Wisne (Colorado) as part of next year’s freshman class.

Rivet’s 6-foot senior originally committed to Evansville in September but decommitted in November. Shortly after winning the Lilly Scholarship, Waggoner said IU assistant Janese Constantine reached out about an opportunity to walk on.

“Having an academic scholarship is just as good, if not better, than an athletic scholarship,” Waggoner said. “I know I don’t plan to play in the WNBA. Most girls that play college basketball don’t. But I do plan on having a good, successful four years while getting a wonderful education. The Lilly Scholarship took so much pressure off of me. It let me put my education first, and I also get the opportunity IU gave me to play basketball.”

Waggoner plans on pursuing a degree through the Kelley School of Business.

“(IU’s coaches said) you are just the same as everyone else,” Waggoner added. “You have a jersey, you have the same opportunity for playing time as everybody ,and we are expecting you to work as hard as everybody.”

Waggoner currently averages 22 points and 8 rebounds per game for a 19-0 Rivet squad. As a junior, Waggoner helped lead the Patriots to the Class 1A state title game.

She expects to compete at the two- or three-guard spots in college. IU happens to be graduating a former walk-on, Valparaiso High’s Grace Withrow, this year.

“I’m very long, I run track, so I think I bring speed and agility. Defense is my strong suit,” Waggoner said. “I think that’s something I’ll really pursue in college. … All the girls who play at that level can shoot the ball and score the basketball, but defense, it’s the biggest thing, and doing the dirty work.”

The fact that Waggoner will be a part of IU’s program is somewhat surreal. As a young basketball player, she would think about playing for the Hoosiers. She went to IU’s elite camp the summer before her sophomore year.

Now she will have a chance to represent a small school like Rivet at the Big Ten level. She already has an example to follow in the Hoosiers’ all-time leading scorer, Tyra Buss.

“We may be little but we are mighty,” Waggoner said. “Another reporter mentioned Tyra, she came from a small school in Mt. Carmel and she shook the world. Not to compare myself to Tyra, because she’s phenomenal, but she paved the way for girls like that from a small school.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s what you bring to the table. I’m excited to present what I have and be a part of the family up there.”


  1. What a cool story as to how Grace Waggoner will be coming to IU on an academic scholarship. Sounds like she is a very nice player. Always great to get another in-state girl coming our way.
    Jon, just wondering if you are planning to continue weekly updates on how our incoming recruits are doing each week as you have done in the past? I know in past years when you have provided that information, everyone really appreciated it. Go Hoosiers!

    1. MikeC, that was actually something Jeremy Price was doing weekly. Unfortunately, like a lot of newspapers, we’ve experienced some staff cutbacks, which have made it a little harder for Jeremy to find the time for those weekly updates. He’s trying to do that soon, but we’ll see.

    2. I hesitate to mention this, but Mike C, is that something you could provide? You know the game and I enjoy reading your take of the IU women game? Probably time consuming and not sure HT would allow, but who knows?

  2. what makes this is a good get is that Grace has put everything in perspective. She will probably see some playing time if she continues are basketball throughout her college career. The other positive is that IU ladies basketball program is a destination that players have a desire to play for. This continues to be a credit for T. Moren and staff. In this case J.C. gave her a challenge that includes an opportunity. Overall, I feel ladies basketball for incoming college freshmen is not near as developed as for the guys. Therefore, if a lady actually became a gym rat or really focused to be the best college player she could be there are opportunities. In this case a 6′ guard has possibilities. It will be interesting to see if she actually stays with it once she understands how tough it may be. Nevertheless, a nice IU and player ladies basketball story.

  3. Sheila Beeler Warren Central, averaging between 10 to 11 points per game and 7.5 assists. She recently scored 22 against Heritage Christian on like 10 of 13 shooting and is a 1000 point career scorer. Pictures of her indicate a thick frame build at only 5’6.”

  4. That is a great story and opportunity for a student athelete to try and do well. What I like is that besides her BBall stats Defense is her real claim to fame, we shall see.

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