Monroeville's Herring ready for basketball opportunity at Brown
For three years as a member of the Vincentian varsity girls basketball team, Monroeville resident Imani Herring experienced the highest of highs and some tough times as well through setbacks because of injuries.
Through it all, she maintained a focus on getting a strong education and preparing herself for college academics and athletics.
Herring, who graduated from Vincentian a couple of weeks ago with a 4.4 grade-point average, will begin her pursuit of a medical degree and continue to play basketball in the Ivy League at Brown University.
She committed to Brown in December and the academic benefits led the way.
Basketball, she said, came second, and her commitment didn't sway after veteran head coach Jean Burr retired in March.
“Division I basketball, that's as high as you can get,” Herring said.
“I wanted to continue playing, but finding the right fit for me academically was the key. I know I won't be making millions of dollars in basketball professionally. Basketball will keep up my competitive spirit. Basketball is something I love to do.”
Herring, a 6-foot-1 forward/center who transferred to Vincentian after her freshman year at Gateway, experienced championship success with a deep Royals basketball team.
The team won the WPIAL Class A title each of the past three years, taking the 2013-14 title with a 66-46 victory over Serra Catholic at the Palumbo Center.
Herring also helped Vincentian break through in the PIAA tournament, as the Royals crushed District 2 champion Old Forge, 58-34, in the state title game March 22 at the Giant Center in Hershey.
“That was really exciting,” Herring said. “Going out with a state championship was really special.”
Vincentian finished 27-3 overall, and the season included a 37-28 victory at Gateway right before the WPIAL playoffs began. Herring played AAU basketball with Gateway senior Jada Epps and was a freshman teammate with the Gators other 2013-14 senior, Katey Wilson.
In 2013, Vincentian was denied a state title with a 59-42 loss to District 11 champ Tri Valley in the championship game.
That season, Herring's junior campaign with the Royals, was cut short because of surgery to correct a back ailment.
“I didn't play for a couple of weeks while the surgery was scheduled,” Herring said.
“Surgery was the final option. Nothing else was working.”
Herring started having back issues in the spring of her sophomore year, and a car accident that summer only exacerbated the problem.
She played in only a couple of games in her junior season, and the time away from the court, she said, solidified her resolve to get back and help the team bring home state gold.
Herring had several schools interested in her before her injury, including Princeton, Rhode Island, Rice and Lehigh.
Brown, she said, remained in her corner during and after the recovery from the back injury.
“Coach (Burr) was really understanding about my injury,” Herring said. “I knew Brown was a good school, but I didn't realize how much it lined up with what I wanted and the desire I had to become a well-rounded person. I knew I could take control of my education and become a well-rounded athlete.”
Herring spoke with new Brown head coach Sarah Behn shortly after Behn was hired late last month.
“Coach Behn has a lot of energy and likes to run an up-tempo style,” Herring said. “That's the way we played at Vincentian.”
Brown went 10-18 overall in 2013-14 and was 4-10 in the Ivy League. The Bears ended the season winning two of their final three in league play after a five-game losing skid.
One of those wins was a 61-58 victory over Princeton on senior day.
Herring is spending this week at medical camp at the University of Pennsylvania, and she also is working this summer as a research assistant with a doctor at Shady Side and Presbyterian hospitals.
“It is so much more than I thought it would be,” Herring said.
“There is so much to learn. It's such a great opportunity. I love it. I could spend all day there.”