SHORT GAP, W.Va — Like many high school graduates entering collegiate athletics, Makenna Douthitt’s experience has been somewhat dampened by the coronavirus outbreak.
The former Frankfort girls basketball star wasn’t sure if or when she could officially sign to play at WVU Potomac State College, where she’s been committed to attend for months. At one point, she even considered having a makeshift signing in her backyard so she could post the pictures online.
But Douthitt finally got her wish, as she was able to formally sign in front of her family and coaches to become a Catamount earlier this month.
“It felt really good to sign finally,” Douthitt said. “I was really excited to get the chance at last. I made up my mind to go there a while ago and I committed, but the signing kept getting pushed back because of the virus. So I was happy to actually get to have a signing with my family and coach there.”
One of the most accomplished players in Frankfort history, Douthitt was named Times-News Area Player of the Year after averaging 15.4 points (tied for fourth-best in the area), 7.6 rebounds (fifth) and 3.2 assists a game (fifth). She also garnered Potomac Valley Conference Player of the Year honors and was named West Virginia Class AA second-team All-State following a senior campaign where she helped lead the Falcons to a 23-2 record.
The squad came up just short of a birth in the state tournament, but Douthitt was fortunate enough to advance to that stage on two previous Frankfort teams during her sophomore and junior seasons.
After being involved in as many close, high-pressure battles as Douthitt has, her time at Frankfort is likely not something she’ll soon forget.
“What I love most were the high-intensity games,” she said. “We played every game like it was our last, and we had so many good rivalries over my time there. Fairmont Senior, North Marion and Southern were great games every year. I just loved the rush and adrenaline of those moments.
“But more than that, I always enjoyed seeing family at every game. Whether I played good or bad, they were always there to make the moment better. Even when we got to raise a plaque or a banner, the best part was after when I got to run over and hug them.”
Frankfort wasn’t just a great place to compete on the court. Douthitt says it’s also played a vital role in getting her ready for college academically.
“Frankfort is amazing,” said Douthitt, who will be majoring in exercise physiology at PSC. “The teachers and staff are great in the classroom. They really do a good job at stopping and helping if you don’t understand a concept. I’m so blessed to have been able to go there. It has such great programs all around and the community is amazing.”
That tight-knit, community-driven atmosphere is one of the reasons she was drawn to Potomac State.
“The fact that I’m able to go to a smaller school, save money and play basketball is a blessing,” Douthitt said. “I really like coach (Larry Kruk), whose been welcoming and helpful throughout this process. I’m just really excited to play for him and with the other girls.”
In his first year as the head man, Kruk led the Catamounts to a 10-10 record — including five straight wins in the middle section of the schedule, and a 3-2 mark in the conference. The effort earned him Western Pennslyvania Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year honors.
So Douthitt’s entering a program with an upward trajectory. Kruk is getting a player known for her day in and day out consistency, and one known for her ability to play multiple positions at a high level.
Douthitt grew up playing point guard, but a growth spurt and a need for a post player at Frankfort thrust her into that position, where she excelled.
Still, despite her marked improvement, she knows she can still grow her game significantly.
“I want to expand my versatility and improve my game overall,” she said. “I’m not that tall, so if I play down low I’ll need to use my positioning to find space. And your shot can never be good enough.”
Entering a program that graduated only one player in Mackenzie Hartman and returns talented contributors at every position, Douthitt’s ability to fit anywhere on the court makes her an immediate asset.
Douthitt’s do-it-all game will make it difficult for Kruk to leave her off the court.
Alex Rychwalski is a sportswriter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.