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Guard Atwater transfers to FGCU from VCU to be near her baby son

As fans watched Fort Myers transform into Dunk City last season, athletes from colleges around the nation took notice as well. One athlete in particular, Kaneisha Atwater, a 5-foot-7 guard from Fort Pierce, Florida, chose to transfer to FGCU from Virginia Commonwealth University.

VCU’s 2012-13 season was subpar, finishing the year with an 11-19 record. Only averaging 18.2 minutes a game last season as a freshman, Atwater started 12 times and averaged 6.2 points per game on the year. The former high school Parade All-American plays a much bigger role for FGCU than she did for her past team, such as increasing to 20-plus minutes a game.

If you looked at the FGCU’s women’s basketball team in October, you wouldn’t find Atwater as part of the active roster. The NCAA rule for transferring is the student athlete must attend their new university for a full year before they are eligible to play. Atwater appealed the rule for the first time in October this year, but was rejected. A second attempt was successful after help from her former head coach and an explanation of the reason behind her transfer.

The Florida native chose to transfer to FGCU so she could be closer to family. Atwater is mother of a 1-year-old and couldn’t handle being so far away from him and other members in her family anymore.

“It is very important for her to be close to her son and involved in his life” said head coach Karl Smesko. “Kaneisha has been a great addition to our team. Simply, she makes us better.”

The girls have played two games already in the new season, starting off with a 2-0 record preparing for Charlotte on Wednesday night. After only a 6-point outing against FIU to start the year for Atwater, she was able to pick it up against Bethune-Cookman for an 11-point outing with three rebounds, an assist and a steal on the night.

“Kaneisha is a guard with great speed. She makes a lot of defensive plays, and she has the ability to score” Smesko said. Atwater has already made her presence known, locking up a starting position in the lineup at FGCU, a spot she hopes to keep for her remaining three years.

Coming from a school with not much success last season such as VCU, the intensity on the court will be a change for Atwater as she now starts for the reigning Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season champions. Adding a player such as Atwater to a team that hasn’t lost a conference game in two years will make the team more intimidating in the eyes of the A-Sun and the rest of the NCAA.

EN Photos/Kelli Krebs

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