Pineville standout to continue career at University of the Cumberlands


John Henson

Pineville senior Whitney Caldwell signed with the University of the Cumberlands on Wednesday in a ceremony at the school. Pictured with Caldwell in the front row are her parents, Shannon and Ronnie Caldwell and Cumberlands assistant coach Olivia Farmer. The back row includes Cumberlands head coach Rick Reeves, assistant coach Jerton Edwards and Pineville coach Jamie Mills.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

After helping put Pineville in position for the best season in school history this winter, Pineville senior Whitney Caldwell has finalized plans for her future with her decision Wednesday to sign with the University of the Cumberlands.
“I really love the personality of all the people at the Cumberlands. Everyone is super welcoming and they have been wonderful,” said Caldwell after a signing ceremony at Pineville High School. “Not only is it a great program, but the people and the school are excellent, too. I expect to be able to go in and help my team excel in our conference because we are looking to win the NAIA national championship in the years to come.”
Cumberlands coach Rick Reeves also stressed the Lady Patriots’ goal of a national title in remarks before the signing, noting that “in 35 years of coaching it’s the only goal” he’s not accomplished.
Reeves, who led the Cumberlands to a 19-12 mark last season in his second year in Williamsburg, said he was “thrilled” to add Caldwell to his program.
“She will be a tremendous asset to our program and our university,” he said.
Before she makes it to college, Caldwell wants to end her career at Pineville in memorable fashion. The Lady Lions bring back four starters from a 17-11 squad that knocked off Barbourville and Knox Central to capture the 51st District Tournament title. Pineville lost to Clay County in the first round of the 13th Region Tournament. It was the 13th straight loss in regional competition for the Lady Lions, who last won a game in the regional in 1984. Pineville will enter the 2021 season ranked fifth in the region, perhaps the highest ranking in school history in the preseason.
“I think this team has the most potential we’ve ever had,” Caldwell said. “It’s definitely going to take a lot of hard work to get us where we want to be.”
Caldwell played a key reserve role for the Lady Lions as an eighth-grader, averaging 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game as Pineville finished 23-8. Caldwell averaged 9.9 points and 3.0 rebounds as a freshman when Pineville was 18-12. The Lady Lions were in rebuilding mode the next year, but Caldwell scored 16.5 points per game and averaged 5.9 rebounds on a 16-14 squad.
“Whitney made an immediate impact as an eighth-grader on a veteran team. She played an important role for us as a defender, in addition to her scoring” said Pineville coach Jamie Mills. “She became the focus for opposing defenses the past two years and we saw lots of box-and-chasers and triangle-and-twos, but she never complained or made excuses. I think it made her a better player. She doesn’t mind to share the ball, and she’s a good rebounder. She is also a great offensive player with a very good mid-range game. I think she will be a great asset for the program at the Cumberlands.”
Caldwell grew up around the game as her mom played at Harlan and her dad played at Cawood with Phil Cox on the regional runner-up team in 1981.
“They watched and talked about basketball all the time, but I really didn’t get into it until the fifth grade,” Caldwell said. “I’ve loved it ever since and played every chance I could get. It’s given me so many opportunities as a young kid to now. I’ve met a lot of people and traveled all over because of basketball.”
Clay County standout Kaylee Mathis recently signed with the Cumberlands and will be a freshman next season. Former Harlan County standout Shelby McDaniel will be.a redshirt freshman next season. North Laurel’s Reagan Hubbard, Kayla Bruner and Hannah Lawson and Whitley County’s Abbey Estes are also on the Cumberlands roster.