By Ryan Kaczmarski
Magnificat senior and Fairview Park resident Megan Barilla has signed a national letter of intent to The University of Akron and will play basketball.
She had considered going to The Ohio State University or Mercyhurst University – with Mercyhurst also offering her a scholarship – but it was Akron that really stood out for her.
“First of all, Akron is Division I and I really like the coaches,” Barilla said. “The facilities are really nice and Akron is only a 45-minute drive from my house.”
She has played for the National Basketball Academy’s (TNBA) West Side Elite AAU team and was a key part of the Magnificat Blue Streaks team that was district champion this past year. She hopes to keep building on that success at the college level.
“The next level is very intense compared to high school and AAU, but I hope to win a Mid-American Conference championship (with Akron),” she said.
Barilla attributes her athletic success to the coaching she has received over the years.
“Coach (Kevin) McNamara, my AAU coach (at TNBA), gave me the opportunity to play at huge AAU tournaments where hundreds of college coaches were (in attendance),” she said. “My dad has also coached me since I was little and introduced me to the game at a young age.”
McNamara sees her skills and leadership translating well to the college game.
“The thing about Megan is, she is the ultimate competitor,” he said. “I found that she is someone I had a hard time replacing on the floor. Though she was not a vocal leader (on the team), she led by example on the floor.
“Megan has always been that kid who is cool, calm and collected, with the heart of a lion,” he added. “You take her out of any high school or AAU game and the team is going to be worse.”
With all of her success, Barilla knows there is always room for improvement.
“My skills can improve, but I need to get stronger and faster in order to play at the college level,” she said.
McNamara touts Barilla for her guard play and her passing and defensive skills, but he thinks her offensive game will need to mature for her to be successful in college.
“Megan is really going to have to work on her outside shot in college,” he said. “That’s going to be the one part of her game that she is going to get better at. She has incredible timing and a great ability to get to the basket. That is a part of her game that she has gotten away from in the last year – people haven’t seen much of that part of her game – but you will see it come back out in college. That is going to serve her well as she progresses.
“She oozes athleticism,” he added. “The amount she has in her little finger, most kids don’t have in their entire body.”
She earned Magnificat’s Coach’s Award this year and earned an All-District honorable mention.
Barilla plans on majoring in biomedical engineering at Akron.