A St. Joseph native is bringing her basketball talents back home.

Simone Rodney has been playing basketball at St. Louis Community College for the last two years, but is now transferring to Missouri Western to compete as a Griffon.

“It’s interesting coming home. I’m still trying to get my mind wrapped around all of it,” Rodney said. “The support I’ve received already has been tremendous.”

Western isn’t unfamiliar territory for Rodney. The Central graduate grew up in St. Joseph just several miles from Western, the university her parents, Dale and Alexis, call their alma mater.

“The environment that the school is in now versus when we went to school, I would go to school here again. It’s just an exciting time,” Dale Rodney said.

The 20-year-old said returning to St. Joseph wasn’t always the plan. Rodney originally signed with St. Louis CC because she strongly admired the coaches there.

Her decision to transfer came after a conversation with former Western coach Rob Edmisson.

“I have watched him coach for such a long time so I liked his energy and the vibe he gave off. When he called me, at first I was like, ‘Uh, I don’t know how I feel about that.’ Then I got on campus and enjoyed it,” Rodney said.

The recent coaching change at Western did not affect Rodney’s decision. Following Edmisson’s resignation in March, former Texas Tech and UMKC head coach Candi Whitaker was hired to lead the women’s basketball program.

“She brings similar energy and I’m just really excited to get to know her better and play for her,” Rodney said. “She’s bringing a bigger time feel to a smaller town, which I think is awesome.”

The former Indian led Central to a Class 5 District 16 championship game her senior year and a sectionals appearance her junior year.

The guard was named NJCAA 2nd team all-region and all-conference while playing with the St. Louis CC Archers. Rodney finished last season with an average of 9.5 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game. The 5’7 athlete also sank 48.5 percent of her shots from the three-point line.

Rodney stood out not only on the court, but also in the classroom.

The student-athlete was named First-team Academic all-American and holds a 4.0 GPA.

“She’d be the only one in our family to be all-American, so we are pretty proud of her,” Dale Rodney said.

The soon-to-be Griffon will put on her black and gold attire this July when the team gets together for summer workouts.

“I’m hoping with me being here and some other local kids coming back as well, that we can bring some more support for the university because it’s a great place to be,” Simone Rodney said.

The incoming junior will soon play in front of her family, former coaches and friends, just like old times.

“Having my family close again, I’m really excited about that,” Rodney said.

She isn’t the only one excited.

“I’ve already gotten the schedule planned out and everything,” Dale Rodney said. “We will make everything we possibly can.”

Kristen Carver can be reached at kristen.carver@newspressnow.com Follow her on Twitter: @NPNowCarver