The first time Maryland women's basketball coach Brenda Frese watched Tierney Pfirman play, one thought immediately gripped her.
"I just knew that we had to get her in a Maryland uniform," Frese said.
Frese was granted her wish when Pfirman signed to play with the Terrapins last fall. Turns out, though, she was not the only one who wanted and will see Pfirman wearing its uniform. The South Williamsport standout recently was selected to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association NIKE All-American Team. Pfirman will play in the All-American Game March 31 at the Pepsi Center in Denver a day before the Women's Final Four starts there.
A lock for a fourth straight all-state selection, Pfirman is one of only 20 players nationwide chosen to play in the prestigious game. South's all-time leading scorer learned the WBCA Committee had selected her as one of the country's best players four weeks ago while looking at the organization's website.
"I saw my name was on there and I was pretty excited," Pfirman said. "It's the best of the best going out there to play so I want to compete at their level and see where my game is at."
To understand what an honor it is to play in this game that started in 1992, one needs only look at past participants. That list includes Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Maya Moore, Chamique Holdsclaw, Katie Smith and Alana Beard.
Pfirman was at the top of her game this past season. She topped 2,000 career points and broke the South scoring record late in the season before finishing with 2,309 career points, second in Lycoming County history to Kelly Mazzante. The 6-2 forward averaged a district-high 27.7 points, 13 rebounds, 6.1 steals and 3.1 assists per game despite constant double teaming and face-guarding. Pfirman scored a career-high 40 points against Mifflinburg and averaged 24.1 points, along with grabbing 920 career rebounds, during her scholastic career. She also led South to a district title, two league championships and 83 wins.
"The exciting thing about Tierney is her versatility. She's someone who can play multiple positions whether at guard or forward," said Frese, whose Terrapins play Texas A&M in the Sweet 16 Sunday. "She's so skilled and so talented and she will really be able to provide an added dimension to this team."
Pfirman will fly out to Denver next Thursday and come back Monday, after watching one of the Final Four games Sunday. A bonus is that her uncle, Jeff Pfirman, lives in Denver and will be able to attend the game. In addition, future Maryland teammate Malina Howard also will be playing in the game. The 20 athletes will be divided into two teams and play using NCAA rules.
One of only two Pennsylvania players chosen, Prep Charter's Kahleah Cooper is the other, Pfirman also knows Clemson-bound Jonquel Jones from Ohio, so she will not be lonely in Denver. While there, Pfirman also will be part of a photo shoot, an autograph session and meet and greet sessions before playing the game.
Call it an exclamation point on a spectacular season that included 21 wins and a state tournament appearance.
"I couldn't have planned it any better," Pfirman said. "You go year by year playing and making improvements. Every year there are improvements to make and I've seen a lot of growth since my freshman year."
College coaching staffs across the country witnessed that growth first-hand and started heavily recruiting Pfirman following a dominant AAU season between her sophomore and junior years. Coaches from elite Division I programs consistently attended South games before Pfirman verbally committed to Maryland on Super Bowl Sunday, 2011.
Ranked as one of the country's Top 25 players by ESPN in the preseason, Pfirman is part of what is considered a top-five recruiting class and Frese, who led Maryland to the 2006 national championship, thinks she can only make her team better.
"I'm so impressed with her skillset and the way she can shoot the ball. She's just a tremendous passer and has a great overall feel for the game," Frese said. "She will absolutely have a big impact on our team and our program."
The WBCA concurs.