skip navigation
Screen shot 2015 04 03 at 2.35.51 pm

Westtown's Grace Sundback prepared for future at Delaware

11/14/2022, 10:45am EST
By Ryan Coyle

Ryan Coyle (@ryancoyle35)

Most kids leave the friendly confines and the comfort of their home for the first time when they set out for college. Being out on your own at 17 to 18 years old can be hard on someone and forces you to grow up and do it quickly, or you get left behind.

Grace Sundback of Westtown girls basketball and a future Delaware Blue Hen had to grow up a little faster than most kids her age when she transferred to the West Chester, Pa. based boarding school after her freshman year at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, NY. Setting out on her own and being forced to mature without her family right by her side is the reason the Staten Island native believes she will be ready to go once she steps on campus at Delaware.

“When I came here I had the goal of wanting to eventually play Division I basketball,” Sundback said. “Being here gives you a real glimpse of what college is like because you are out on your own without your family by your side all the time. It forces you to work hard by yourself to achieve your goals without someone telling you what to do.”

Westtown senior Grace Sundback committed to Delaware earlier this offseason. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Sundback, a 5-10 guard, is known for her knockdown shooting ability. She was one of the more sought after recruits in the Mid-Atlantic region playing for the powerhouse that has become Westtown and New Heights on the grassroots circuit.

After a deep and thorough recruiting process that consisted of multiple visits, phone calls and text messages, Sundback ultimately decided she wanted to stay semi-local to her home in New York and her home for the past few years at Westtown by becoming a Blue Hen. She chose Delaware over Miami (FL) and St. John’s in the end. 

“Delaware just believed in me so much,” Sundback said. “The coaching staff showed their belief in me so much, I just knew it was the school for me. When I visited, I had the feelings just like I had at Westtown. It was one of those moments just like ‘alright this is it, this is where I want to be, and this place is going to be able to take me to where I want to go’.”

Having the opportunity to attend a high-level boarding school like Westtown has given Sundback the opportunity to get a glimpse of what the college experience will be like and what her future as a Division I basketball player will look like as well.

From unlimited gym access, to strength and conditioning programs, to high-level facilities, and a great coaching staff, Sundback knew she had to make this bold move to take her game to the next level.

“Right before COVID took over, I had taken a visit down to Westtown and had fallen in love with the place,” Sundback said. “My Mom knew coach Fran (Burbidge) through AAU and knew how good of a coach he was. When I came down to visit in February I just saw everything that the school had to offer and could envision myself succeeding there. 

“It was a big decision between my family and I, leaving Staten Island at 15 years old to go to school somewhere that is 1.5 hours away. It was nerve wracking at first, but I was ready to make the leap to better myself.”

Since Sundback has transferred into the program, she has made a great impression on her teammates and the coaching staff every single day she hits the floor.

“There’s not enough space in your article or time to tell you all the good things about Grace,” Burbidge said. “Everyone identifies her as a shooter, but she does so much more for the team. She can get to the rim, she can knock down mid ranges, is really good at the line, is unselfish, she just can do it all. She always knows where to be on defense and the right spots to be in even when she gets switched onto someone bigger than her.”

While Sundback was first team all-league last year in the Friends School League and a starter on the PAISAA state championship squad, her biggest impact might be in a way other than on-court production her head coach of the last two years noted. 

“Her leadership and work ethic really standout. She is just a natural when it comes to that stuff,” Burbidge said. “We trust the leadership of our captains and the DNA of the other players to do the right things everyday and we can do that because of people like Grace.” 

At Delaware, Sundback will be playing for head coach Sarah Jenkins who enters her first year at the helm for the Blue Hens after most recently serving as an assistant at Penn State, but has previous experience at Delaware as the associate head coach. Sundback will be joining another local talent as teammates next year with Archbishop Wood grad Bri Bowen who is entering her freshman campaign for Delaware this fall.

“They value women’s basketball a lot at Delaware and that is something that meant a lot to me,” Sundback said. “I think coach Sarah [Jenkins] is a great fit for me. She told me to ‘always expect to win’ and I couldn’t relate to that more because that is something I expect out of myself everyday. She takes her job very seriously and she is very personal with her players and that is something that was very important to me in the recruiting process.”

Before making the drive south from her Staten Island home next summer to Newark, De. Sundback is aiming to lead the Moose to back-to-back Friends School League and PAISAA championships, while earning a spot on the first team all-league roster yet again. 

She has also been working on things that she knows she has to improve on before getting to the next level, taking advantage of her unlimited gym access and the expert coaching staff of Burbridge and former Villanova star Doug West in the meantime. 

“The main thing those around me have told me about the college game is that it is a lot faster and you are playing at a quicker pace than before,” Sundback noted. “I am working on things like my speed and agility to be able to move around the court at better speeds to be ready to face the better athletes at the next level. I have been working on new ways to create my own shot as well, because with scouting reports at the next level they are going to try and take away everything you do well and you are going to have to make adjustments.”

While Sundback is confident that her transition from Xaverian to Westtown will benefit her as a person and a player going forward as she embarks on her next journey to the University of Delaware, her head coach just wants everyone to know that she is more than ready to take on this next challenge in her life.

“I told this to the whole Delaware staff,” Burbidge said. “‘I know you think you know what you are getting with Grace and I know you think she is a really good player. But, you are still going to be surprised when you get the chance to work with her for how much she brings to the table. She’s that important and that special.”

If her second transition is anything like her first, Delaware will be smiling from ear to ear. 

HS Coverage:

Tag(s): Home  Recruiting  Contributors  Ryan Coyle  High School  Girls HS  Friends' Schools (G)  Westtown