FAIRMONT, W.Va. — As a freshman, Marley Washenitz joined a Fairmont Senior starting lineup that featured four seniors. She fit right in with a veteran group of Polar Bears. Washenitz earned all-state honors and scored 41 points in three state tournament games to lead FSHS to the Class AA state championship.

“We all were striving for that goal so much,” Washenitz said. “Having it happen, being able to get the rings, being able to say you are a state champ, it is really crazy. It is just unbelievable.”

The celebration didn’t last long for Washenitz because basketball is increasingly becoming a year-round sport. For players with aspirations of competing at the top levels of college basketball, summertime doesn’t provide much of an offseason. Washenitz’s schedule is now filled with individual workouts and AAU tournaments. She competes with the West Virginia Thunder. The team travels to events around the eastern United States throughout the summer.

“Not only do I have practice and workouts every day of the week, I have lifting to get stronger. When it comes to tournament time, we have two to three games a day. The tournaments go from three days to six days. You never know how long a tournament will end up happening.”

“When it comes to AAU, these girls are really serious about basketball because everyone who is playing is fighting for a scholarship.”

While many of Marley’s classmates are relaxing during the three-month summer break, Washenitz’s schedule is a hectic one.

“Most girls, they get to go to the beach for a week or do a bunch of different things. But I am just in the gym. But I can’t complain because it is the path I have chosen and I love it.”

For a player with three years of high school basketball ahead of her, Washenitz has popped up on the radar of many top-level college programs. She received her first Division 1 scholarship offer from Arkansas State in May. Over the past week, Washenitz netted a pair of Power 5 conference offers. The first came from West Virginia University after a conversation with head coach Mike Carey.

“We talked for a little bit and then he decided to offer me and I was really ecstatic. I was speechless. I didn’t know what to think. It has always been a dream of mine to get an offer from my home state.”

“I am really proud because I know my parents have been waiting for this moment as well.”

Two days later, Washenitz received her second offer from a major conference school — Virginia Tech.

“If I set my mind to something I know I can do it. I just wasn’t sure if it (Power 5 offers) would come this early.”

More scholarship offers should pour in for Washenitz and she has no immediate plans to verbally commit to a school.

“I have an idea and I’ll know when the time is right. So until then, my options are open.”

Washenitz credits her family, particularly her older brother Trey, for improving her game. Trey is a rising senior at FSHS.

“Playing my brother 1-on-1 in the driveway… it is not always a bad thing when you compete with your siblings because they are pushing you to get better.”

Washenitz averaged 15 points per game in her freshman season at Fairmont Senior. This summer, she is focused on improving her mid-range jump shot to become a more effective scorer.

“A lot of girls, they either take a simple drive to the hole or they can shoot a three. But not many girls can come to the five-foot or ten-foot part of the floor and just pull up and shoot a jump shot. It is really hard to be stopped if you can come down, pull up, drive, shoot a three… it is hard for people to know what you are going to do because you have so many different ways to attack the rim.”