More than a month after a disappointing end to her high school career, Rayne’s Charlesha Dugas walked back into Southeastern Louisiana’s University Center with a totally different perspective.
Instead of dwelling on the past and a heart-wrenching loss to Ursuline in the Class 4A state championship game, Dugas was instead focused on her future — one adorned in Southeastern’s green and gold.
Dugas’ official visit Friday to the school’s campus in Hammond was enough to wash away any lingering bad memories as she signed a scholarship with Southeastern at the end of the trip.
“I told the coach (Errol Gauff) the last time I walked in here it wasn’t pretty, and he started laughing,” Dugas said. “It brought back a lot of memories, both bad and good. It was a great experience. We did win the first (semifinal) game.”
Dugas becomes the second member of Rayne’s state runner-up team to sign a scholarship, joining fellow senior Whitley Larry who signed with the University of New Orleans on Wednesday.
“I’m excited; I think it’s going to be fun,” Dugas said. “It’s always been my dream to play Division I. To get that opportunity is going to be fun, and I’m going to take advantage of it.”
The 5-foot-9 Dugas, who played the off-guard position, completed one of the greatest careers in school history. It was great for Rayne (31-3), which reached its first state championship game in 30 years.
Dugas leaves as the school’s career leader in scoring with more than 2,000 points, including 1,800 over the past three years.
Dugas, who averaged 21.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.1 steals, was named The Acadiana Advocate’s All-Metro Outstanding Player and a first-team Class 4A all-state member.
“From middle school to high school, I put in the work that I needed to,” Dugas said. “I can do the same for college. It’s the same game, just at a different level.”
Because of a late coaching change with Gauff taking over as SLU’s coach April 2, the Lady Lions didn’t immediately target Dugas.
“I didn’t hear from them at all,” Dugas said about SLU’s recruitment of her before Gauff’s hiring. “When coach Gauff applied, he called my coach and said he would consider offering me if he got the job. When he got the job, we started getting to know each other and scheduled a visit.”
Dugas said she drew interest from Louisiana-Lafayette and also had a scheduled visit for Nicholls State.
The trip to SLU was all Dugas needed to solidify her future in what’s expected to be an up-tempo style of play — like the one in wich she flourished in high school — and be around a set of teammates who welcomed her with open arms.
“I didn’t look at their record and looked at it more as a place where I could go and play,” Dugas said of SLU’s 11-47 record the previous two years.
“I feel I’ll be able play my freshman year. I have the mindset to go and work for it and earn my position.”