WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - UNCW women's basketball coach Karen Barefoot was hired in May 2017 to rebuild the Seahawks program.
She has retooled the roster with talent from around the country, but she hasn't forgotten about Wilmington area players.
For the first time since the 1986 season, UNCW has three local players on the roster: Paige Powell (East Columbus High School), Lacey Suggs (East Bladen), and Julia Buehler (Hoggard)
For Powel, a former East Columbus standout, playing close to home was important, and one of the reasons why she came to UNCW.
"Coming some place where you don't know anybody can be intimidating and scary," Powell said. "But seeing just a few familiar faces, it helps a lot. One of the staff members, Brittany Morris, is my cousin."
Suggs, Powell, and Buehler dominated individually at the high school level. Now, they look forward to winning together as Seahawks.
"I heard Julia was coming and I played travel ball with her," Suggs said. "Then Paige and I played against each other for three years about four times a year. So it's cool we were different then and we have come together as a team now."
"It's awesome playing against each other, and seeing each other in high school and playing with girls that I have played against, I just think it's an awesome experience" Buehler said.
All three will have different roles to play for Barefoot's team, but each should be important to the team's future success.
"They work extremely hard and we are going to need everyone to step up," Barefoot said. "We have had six practices and all of them are giving us something."
The three also believe the addition of more local players will help draw more fans to Seahawks home games.
"I believe there will be more people out throughout the community" Suggs said. "From where Paige is from, from Wilmington, and where I am from. So hopefully we'll see some familiar faces in the stands."