By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Jeni Garber thought for seven seconds before answering the question: How will Tori Kuhn impact the Quincy University women's basketball team?
It wasn't that Garber couldn't think of a reason. Rather, she had too many reasons to choose from to answer quickly. Finally, instead of settling on just one of those reasons, Garber decided to run down the list.
"There are so many things about her," Garber, QU's coach, said Monday. "She's a total person. She's the complete package. She's a good basketball player, a good student and a good person. She's everything."
On top of that, Kuhn's transfer from Lindenwood to QU, which was announced Friday, could make the difference in elevating QU back to the elite status it had a couple seasons ago.
Already, the news is generating a lot of buzz for Garber's program.
"The community loves her," Garber said. "I haven't heard one bad thing. Everyone is just so excited to have her at Quincy and have her back home."
A desire to return home was the instigator that led Kuhn, a 2012 Quincy Notre Dame graduate, to transfer.
"I'm really excited about coming home and playing in front of a good home crowd," Kuhn said Monday. "I grew up going to Quincy University's basketball camps.
"I had a great experience here at Lindenwood, but I just think I had that constant desire to come home and play at home in front of people that I love. ... Since I'm a hometown girl, I'm super excited to play for Quincy University and Coach Garber."
Kuhn received a scholarship offer from QU while she was at QND, along with offers from NCAA Division I schools Bradley, Evansville, Southeast Missouri State, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and Colgate. Ultimately, she settled on Lindenwood, located in St. Charles, Mo., about two hours from Quincy.
"A lot of college students say they want to get away from home. For me, I thought that too," said Kuhn, who will finish this semester of school at Lindenwood before transferring. "Then I found out after a while that maybe I wanted to come back home."
Lindenwood released Kuhn to talk to other schools last Wednesday, Kuhn said. Garber and Kuhn talked later that night. Kuhn said QU was really the only school on her radar after she decided she wanted to transfer.
Kuhn will give additional size and strength to a QU squad that ranked second in the Great Lakes Valley Conference in rebounding margin last season. Garber said the 6-foot-1 Kuhn is an option to play power forward or center. QU returns 6-4 Hannah Weedman, who will be a senior, and Garber said she won't hesitate to put Kuhn and Weedman on the floor at the same time. Weedman transferred to QU from Evansville prior to last season and averaged 10.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. She started 24 games.
QU didn't graduate any players off of last year's team that finished 14-13 and missed the Division II Tournament for the first time since 2010. QU has made the national tournament in eight of the last 11 seasons.
Kuhn, meanwhile, played in 13 games last season as a freshman, starting 10. She averaged 9.6 points and a team-best 6.2 rebounds per game. She sat out for most of the 2013 portion of the season due to a bout with mononucleosis and later a twisted knee.
Kuhn said she had an offseason operation to repair an early-season cartilage tear in her left knee. It's the same knee that Kuhn tore her ACL in after her freshman year of high school, but Kuhn said this knee issue isn't as serious. The recovery time from the procedure is about six months. Kuhn said she goes back to the doctor for an evaluation in May and that she expects to be ready for practice next fall.
Kuhn played her freshman season of prep hoops at Quincy High School. She was required by IHSA rules to sit out her sophomore season after transferring to QND. She rehabbed her knee during that time.
As a junior and senior, she started at center for QND's back-to-back Class 2A state title teams. The Lady Raiders went 64-2 during those seasons. As a senior, Kuhn averaged 11.6 points and a team-best 9.6 rebounds per game en route to collecting second-team 2A all-state honors from the Associated Press and first-team 1A/2A selection by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
Kuhn joins Garber's 2013 recruiting class that includes November signees Nia Roth of Incarnate Word and Okawville's Megan Wienstroer.