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For Whiteland grad, second time was charm walking on IU team

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Former Whiteland standout Drea Mize, left, playing for Indiana University, dribbles past a Belmont defender during a game this season.
Former Whiteland standout Drea Mize, left, playing for Indiana University, dribbles past a Belmont defender during a game this season. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Drea Mize never doubted she would play college basketball.

Not only that, she always knew it she would do so for a major NCAA Division I program.

She just didn’t know where. Or when.

But after two years of pursuing her dream after graduating from high school, it’s come true.

The Mize File

Name: Drea Mize

College: Indiana

Position: Guard

Year: Sophomore

Height: 5-foot-9

Age: 19

High School: Whiteland (2011)

Major: Sports marketing

Favorite TV shows: “Nashville,” “SportsCenter”

Favorite movie: “Perfect Pitch”

Parents: David and Nicole Mize

Living proof that determination pays off, the former Whiteland Community High School player — after coming up short in her first bid a year ago — has earned a spot on Indiana University women’s basketball team as a walk-on.

A four-year starter at Whiteland, Mize has played in eight of the Hoosiers’ 16 games and is having the time of her young life.

“I used to have dreams about it. It’s been nothing short of amazing,” said Mize, a 5-foot-9 sophomore guard. “Having a second family here, being part of another basketball team, is amazing.”

So was her journey.

A member of some of the most successful teams in Whiteland history (the Warriors were 18-3 her senior year), Mize was determined to continue her career at a Division I school.

Former Whiteland teammates Haley Howard (Butler) and Morgan Johnson (St. Louis) accepted Division I scholarships, and Mize wanted to follow a similar path.

Except she sought a bigger stage.

Despite overtures from smaller Division I programs, including Evansville and Rhode Island, Mize decided to give IU a try as a walk-on. It was the right size, and it was close to home.

“I always knew that I wanted to go to a bigger school,” said Mize, who averaged double-figure scoring most of her high school career. “I kind of knew that I wanted to be at a bigger school, bigger than Butler.

“I’m kind of a family-oriented person, so I wanted to be close to home.”

Mize enrolled at IU and tried out for the Hoosiers before the 2011-12 season. As she recalled, “It did not work out.”

But the door wasn’t closed.

A sports marketing major, she stayed in school, not sure what — if anything — her playing future might hold.

She found out following the firing of head coach Felisha Legette-Jack and the hiring of Curt Miller, who joined the Hoosiers after 16 successful seasons at Bowling Green.

Heeding the advice and encouragement of friends, she gave it another shot under the new coach.

This time, it worked out.

“I love competition. I don’t walk away from a challenge,” Mize said. “I always imagined myself playing in college.”

Except now she’s not imagining. She’s playing — sparingly, but playing.

Mize averages 6.8 minutes per game for the 10-6 Hoosiers. She’s made 1 of 9 shots from the field (a 3-pointer) and 3 of 5 free throws for six points. She also has six rebounds and a steal.

Although her next goal is to earn a scholarship, she insists she’ll be perfectly happy finishing her career as a walk-on, if a scholarship path doesn’t open.

“That’s all up to coach Miller,” Mize said. “It’s going to be great if a scholarship comes along, if that’s offered. If that happens, I would truly be blessed.

“But if not, I’m perfectly happy being part of IU basketball. I look forward to the challenges of improving my game.”

She also embraces her role, however limited at the moment.

“The one thing is, I don’t give up,” Mize said. “I try to spark people, even if it’s just coming off the bench for two minutes. I try to do all the little things and be the person who never gives up.

“I’m very blessed to be here.”

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