By Tyler Nunez | LSU Student
For many, the term student-athlete is an oxymoron, but LSU freshman basketball guard Raigyne Moncrief does not subscribe to that stereotype.
"God Bless her for being an engineering major and playing a Division I sport," said senior guard Jeanne Kenney. "That's something special."
In addition to serving a starting role on a nationally ranked women's basketball team, Moncrief plans to earn a degree in electrical engineering before she leaves LSU.
Moncrief began her engineering journey as a freshman at American Heritage High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla, where – after a suggestion from her mother – she entered program that taught her skills such as building and diagraming circuits.
She quickly developed an interest in the subject and didn't think twice about enrolling in the LSU College of Engineering.
Moncrief said managing time between school and basketball is difficult at times, but she's not one to back down from a challenge.
"I try to keep [school and basketball] balanced because I have a future in both, so I plan on putting as much hard work into both equally," Moncrief said. "If I really want something, I'm going to do what I can and work as hard as I can to get it."
Moncrief contributed her driven nature to her mother, who taught her the importance of putting 100 percent into everything she does. It's this work ethic and resolve to improve that Moncrief's coaches and teammates can't get enough of.
"Raigyne is a perfectionist on the court and off the court," Kenney said. "When her game is kind of off and she feels it's off, she's getting in the gym and working. That's the kind of work ethic I appreciate so much. I really value that as a teammate."
LSU coach Nikki Caldwell lauded Moncrief prior to the season, saying the freshman had the potential to be one of the best to play for the program and citing her athletic ability as almost unmatched at the college level.
Moncrief has lived up to the hype, acting as one of LSU's primary threats on both sides of the ball. She leads the Lady Tigers with steals and trails only senior forward Theresa Plaisance in scoring with 11.3 points per game.
"She's one of the brightest players that I've been around as far as basketball IQ," Caldwell said. "But she's also that student-athlete that will find time to do extra work: extra work in the classroom and extra work on the basketball court."
While Moncrief appreciates the praise, she's working formore than personal achievement. She wants to make her team better, too.
"As of right now, I'm really just striving for us to get to the Final Four, to be a successful team. If that means I need to have a good game or I have to play a certain way, I will."
But that won't stop those around her from marveling. That's a trait that simply can't be taught, according to Kenney.
"It's been amazing to see her evolve and to see how far she's come from the beginning when she just relied on pure athleticism to now, thinking the game," Kenney said. "She's going to be a beast by the time she's a senior."