At 6-foot-1, the Heritage (Littleton, Colo.)
girls basketball senior possesses some of the best size in the talent-rich Continental League, but you won't see her in the paint too often. And, after being recruited heavily by Division I programs, Huggins did the opposite of what many local girls in her situation have done: She has decided to remain in state.
One of the tallest perimeter threats in recent memory, Huggins has committed to the University of Colorado for next season despite offers from marquee programs outside the borders of the Centennial state.
"I had narrowed it down between Arizona State, CU and the University of Pittsburgh," Huggins said. "It ultimately came down to the fact that I had seen coach (Linda) Lappe and her coaches improve Colorado throughout the season and I got to knew a few of their girls. And it's a place I can call home."
On the hardwood, Huggins' home often is beyond the 3-point line. A varsity player all four of her seasons and a three-year starter for the Class 5A Eagles, Huggins drills 3s with unmatched proficiency (61 in 26 games last season, including eight in one game) and creates matchup problems galore because her size allows her to shoot over defenders.
Heritage coach Ron McClurg, who has produced 14 Division I players in his 15 seasons at the helm, considers Huggins "The best shooter we've ever had. We've never had a shooter like that."
That's lofty praise considering Heritage's alumna include players such as Keirsten Walters (Connecticut), Cissy Pierce (Stanford), Amanda Adamson (Syracuse/New Mexico) and Melissa Culver, a three-year starter at Northwestern.
"Each girl had their unique little niche, and Lauren's asset is that she's a great shooter," McClurg said.
Opposing coaches seem to agree.
"When we play Heritage, we want to know where she is at all times on the floor because she can hurt you, especially in transition," Chaparral coach Tony Speights said. "She has great range out to about 25 feet and is much improved with putting the ball on the floor. I have been a head coach in the Continental League for six years and in that time, she is one of – if not the best – shooters to come through this league."
One of the few teams that has had success curtailing Huggins is Rocky Mountain, which limited her to five points last season and nine in the season opener Nov. 30, when the Lobos edged Heritage 38-37.
"What we have done is matched her size with our most athletic girl and denied her the ball as much as we could," Rocky Mountain coach Todd Matkin said. "In other words, whoever is guarding her never has any ‘help' responsibility from start to finish."
Because Huggins knows some teams might isolate her and that squaring up for the 3-pointer won't be a given, she understands the portions of her game on which she must build.
"Improving my game would definitely start with being more of a threat attacking the basket," she said. "Obviously, everyone knows I can shoot the ball pretty well, but being able to drive would be helpful."
McClurg insists Huggins is her own harshest critic, that any form of failure fuels her. One can only imagine how a player nitpicking her own performances must have felt when the Division I offers began rolling in.
"It was overwhelming, for sure, at first," Huggins said. "It was a shock having those big-name schools contact me, but eventually it just became normal and it was fun to talk with all the coaches. They were all so nice and it felt like I was just talking to a friend."
Huggins now will be making a new friend base in Boulder. The Buffaloes, formerly a perennial Top 25 team, are trying to gain footing in a new conference (Pac-12) this season, and Huggins appears a good fit, most likely projecting as a shooting guard.
While many players go Division I and don't make a difference, McClurg believes Huggins will.
"Every college can use a great shooter," McClurg said. "They'll find a spot for her."