LUBBOCK- Bailey Maupin has made a fast transition from playing at Class 2A Gruver – population of 1,130 – to shining at Division I Texas Tech – enrollment of over 60,000 – in a powerful Big 12 Conference, and she’s made it rather smoothly.
Only a sophomore, the 20-year-old is doing her part to bring back that West Texas mystique from a once proud Lady Raider program of days gone by.
“I’m having a ton of fun,” Maupin said. “I love the people I’m surrounded by, and I love the coaching staff. I know I made the right choice coming to Texas Tech and I love being a Lady Raider.”
Just go to a Lady Raider game at the United Supermarkets Arena and see what head coach Krista Gerlich and the program thinks of Maupin. During a home game against No. 10-ranked Texas on Wednesday, Maupin highlights a video hype package before the contest and her music playlist was featured on the arena jumbotron for everyone to see. Her photos are all over Texas Tech’s game notes and the Lady Raider social media pages.
This strategy has been in design by Gerlich ever since she offered a very young Maupin during her coaching tenure at UT Arlington when Maupin hadn’t even laced up a pair of varsity sneakers entering her freshman year at Gruver.
Gerlich, a Spearman graduate with that Hansford County connection, is the definition of what Lady Raider basketball represents, helping lead Texas Tech along with legendary teammate, Sheryl Swoopes, to an NCAA national title in 1993.
Gerlich’s No. 21 jersey banner hangs in the rafters of the USA and her mission is to bring Texas Tech back to that prominence and it starts with Maupin.
“When I recruited Bailey, I told her I wanted her to be a face for this program,” said Gerlich, who is 54-52 in four seasons as the Lady Raider head coach. “It’s a no brainer to have a player and person like Bailey be a face for this program. She represents everything about being a Lady Raider. She’s blue-collar, and a genuine young woman that has great values.”
Maupin, a very quiet country girl who lets her basketball do the talking, does say it’s been amazing to see what the program has done for her.
“I love the attention I’m getting, and the team gets,” Maupin said. “I love being recognized when we go places. I love when a little kid comes up and says hello. Texas Tech is exactly where I want to be, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
While Texas Tech is still building under Gerlich, anyone can see the Lady Raiders are starting to turn that corner. Yes, they did take a lopsided loss to Texas, 74-47, however, bounced back to beat Kansas on Saturday, 73-64, improving to 13-3 overall and 2-1 in the Big 12 Conference.
Maupin is a huge reason for that. The 2022 Press Pass Sports Girls Basketball Player of the Year, a two-time Class 2A state champion, a McDonald’s All-American, and a member of the 2023 Big 12 All-Freshman Team, has made major strides since arriving on campus.
Maupin recently surpassed 500 points in a win over Incarnate Word in mid-December. The 5-foot-10, sharpshooter has totaled 15 double-figure scoring outings this season. While her production is there, what she is asked to do is not easy.
Gerlich’s reputation is to push those she trusts. Maupin has become that for Gerlich. Maupin is tasked with running the point guard position, along with other guard positions, she gets the opponents top defender and guards the top scorer on the other side.
“Bailey was never intended to play point guard,” Gerlich said. “We had an injury and we needed Bailey to move into that role. We always want to add to her game and make her better. That’s with any player. But I think she is learning how to distribute and still get her looks. She has figured out how to be a better teammate.
“In high school your offense was your defense especially coming from small school. Now she has to defend at a elite level, and she is coming along. Her footwork is getting better and she’s very coachable about letting us work on her fundamentals and how to get a shot off quicker and being consistent.”
Though there are times it’s overwhelming, Maupin is grateful to be thrust into such a role.
“I have a great relationship with coach Gerlich,” Maupin said. “We have a tremendous bond. She knows where I’m coming from, and I know where she is coming from. There are times I get chewed out, but I like that. It makes me more focused and makes me ready to play. Coach Gerlich is never scared to let me know what I need to do to get better. We both hate losing and I think that’s what really connects us.”
Gruver head basketball coach Trent Lankford never misses an opportunity to follow Maupin and how her career is progressing. Lankford, who led the Lady Hounds to the 2022 state championship with a perfect 33-0 mark, isn’t shocked in the least with what Maupin is accomplishing.
“I knew she’d have to learn,” Lankford said. “But I always knew she could adjust and now you see her coming into her own. She’s scoring, running the point, and she’s helping on defense. Bailey has all the tools, great leadership and we’re just proud to see what she is doing.”
Even with all of the success, Maupin never forgets where she’s from. She knows that Gruver as well as the Texas Panhandle is a very special place. On any given night the Maupin family section at the USA is packed with Bailey fans from Gruver that never stopped following her tremendous career.
Texas Panhandle basketball teams travel in droves just to see her play like the Friona Squaws did on Wednesday and the McLean Lady Tigers did on Saturday against Kansas.
“I just want to say thank you to all who support me,” Maupin said. “It means so much to me. It always amazes me to look up and see the amount of people that come to the games and are in my family’s section. They have no idea how much that means to me. Not everyone has that, and I’ve been lucky enough to have that since seventh grade. I’d never change anything for the world. The Gruver community and my family is one of the reasons I play. They always have my back.”