Amy Hughes,

It sounds like a normal conference player of the week release, one of hundreds written every week around the country.

Mount Olive College senior point guard Shequanta McGee, who went a perfect 9-for-9 including 6-for-6 from 3-point range – for a career-high 25 points in Mount Olive’s road win at Armstrong Atlantic State, has been named Conference Carolinas Women’s Basketball Player of the Week. The player of the week award is the first ever for McGee.

The Jan. 4, 2011, release continues to detail “Scoot” McGee’s week as her team went 2-1 the previous week. The point that makes the reader do a double-take doesn’t come until the end of the release.

McGee’s player of the week award highlights a comeback from a serious off-court injury prior to the season. McGee suffered an accident in her home and broke her jaw in two places, causing her to miss the entire preseason and the Trojans’ regular-season opener. She has started in all eight games in which she’s appeared and has averaged just under 27 minutes per contest.

It was after 11 p.m. on an early October night in McGee’s off-campus apartment. As she walked into her bedroom, she flipped on the light, only to have the light bulb blow out. Negotiating a dark room, McGee stood on her bed to replace the bulb. When she stepped down off the bed, disaster struck. She lost her balance and started to fall, hard and fast.

“I knew my nightstand was in front of me,” McGee said, “but my hands couldn’t find it.”

Her jaw found it instead. The left side of McGee’s face connected with the nightstand with enough force to shatter her mandible (lower jaw) on both sides.

“She hit it with so much force, it was like a car accident,” said Mount Olive head coach Wendy Lee. “She was bleeding on the right side and had a big gap between her teeth, so she figured she had knocked a tooth out.”

Mount Olive PG Scoot McGee

That was not the case.

After a trip to a dentist and then the emergency room, McGee’s jaw was X-rayed and the true extent of the damage was apparent. McGee had surgery to put in plates to stabilize her broken jaw on both sides and it was wired shut.

“She was in tremendous pain,” Lee said. “And all she was thinking of was that we started practice on October 15.”

During the offseason, Lee had spoken with McGee about her impending senior year at Mount Olive. McGee is one of six seniors for the Trojans, running the point for a team that finished 16-11 a year ago.

“I had seen more focus from Scoot (McGee’s life-long nickname) than ever before,” Lee said. “That’s what you want to see from a senior, that kind of desire, dedication and commitment to make your senior year be the best year ever. She had a great offseason and great workouts from August through October.”

“When I was admitted to the hospital I had surgery and stayed overnight,” McGee said. “Afterwards, I was on a liquid diet and I lost 20 pounds. I couldn’t do anything for the first four weeks.”

McGee’s jaw was wired shut to facilitate the healing process. She lived on protein shakes and energy drinks, trying to consume an adequate number of calories. And she watched silently from the sidelines while her team prepared for the season.

“Practice was difficult,” Lee said. “Scoot was there on the sidelines, but she couldn’t even talk and help coach the other players because her jaw was wired shut.

“We had a sophomore point guard who stepped up and did well, but we had to really adjust and keep things more basic and simple. Even when Scoot was able to come back, we had to make some adjustments because she wasn’t back to her normal capacity.”

McGee missed her team’s preseason games and the season opener at Chowan before returning to the court on Nov. 20 at home against Catawba. In that game, she started and finished with four points, three assists and three steals in 25 minutes.

“It wasn’t easy,” McGee said. “I only practiced about three days before that game, and I couldn’t play more than a couple minutes at a time because I was so out of shape. I’m still not where I want to be, but it’s coming along. Now I can play more than two minutes at a time.”

McGee’s physical restrictions have been lifted. She practices and plays wearing custom-fitted mouthguards on both her upper and lower teeth, but they are extremely thin and don’t interfere with her on-court communication.

She has started 12 of Mount Olive’s 13 games this season and is averaging 9.7 points per game and 26.7 minutes on the floor. She has 27 steals and 44 assists on the year.

Rather than focusing on the offseason ordeal, McGee’s focus is now on her team’s upcoming games, particularly a Jan. 29 contest at Limestone that will be televised live by CBS College Sports.

“We are so excited to play on TV,” McGee said. “We talk about it as a team and individually all the time. My freshman year, the boys played Barton on TV and we were wondering if we would ever play on TV before we graduated. This year, it’s going to happen, and I think I’ve told everyone at home who hasn’t been able to come here for a game.”

While Lee is also eagerly anticipating the televised match-up with Limestone, she is even happier to have her point guard back on the floor for more than a few minutes at a time.

“We have Scoot back,” Lee said. “We have her heart and her leadership and because of her determination to come from behind and fight harder, she’s had several games where we can see she’s really back to being herself.

“She has the heart of a champion and is just a joy to coach,” Lee continued. “Scoot is one of my heroes. You don’t always know if somebody can come back from something like that and she has done it. It’s been amazing. She still struggles with energy and her weight and being smaller and thinner than she’s used to, but she makes up for that with heart and hustle. As she continues to build up her stamina and strength, she’ll hopefully have the kind of senior year that she had expected all along, it will just be one that unveiled itself in a different way.

“After that type of injury, getting back out there isn’t easy. You have to be able to put yourself back out there and know you might get hit again the jaw. I couldn’t tell that she ever struggled with that, just a little bit over the first few days in practice. Now, I can’t tell that there’s a fear of getting hit again. That’s not easy to overcome.”

McGee can now laugh about the accident that turned her senior year upside-down, since she’s back on the court and contributing to her team.

“I wouldn’t advise anybody to step on anything in the dark,” McGee said with a laugh. “Change your light bulbs in the daytime.”