Sarah Clement was on her way to another McAuley High girls’ basketball game last season, knowing she would be sitting on the bench in street clothes due to season-ending knee surgery, when she got a message to call UNH women’s basketball coach Maureen Magarity.

“She said, ‘I know you’re down about your injury and me and the rest of the coaching staff just had a meeting and I wanted to uplift your spirits to offer you a full scholarship to come here,'” Clement recalled Wednesday.

Clement, now a junior at McAuley, confirmed her intention to accept UNH’s scholarship offer after an official visit to the Durham, New Hampshire, campus last weekend.

“Ever since I was little, I always wanted to play Division I basketball and it was kind of my dream and after tearing (her ACL) I kind of wondered if my dream was kind of crushed,” Clement said. “UNH really showed that they believe in me and my dream could come true.”

Verbal commitments are not binding for athlete or school. Athletes can sign a binding national letter of intent in the academic year before enrolling at a four-year institution. Women’s basketball has both an early (in November) and regular (April-May) signing period.

Clement is the younger sister of two-time Telegram and Gatorade Player of the Year Allie Clement, now a freshman at Marist.

As a freshman, Sarah Clement played a significant role as a shooting guard in McAuley’s third of four straight Class A titles. She has also played extensively with the Maine Firecrackers club team coached by her father, Brian Clement. One of her Firecracker teammates, Greely High senior Ashley Storey, has also committed to UNH.

“I couldn’t have done it without my dad. He’s coached me from Day One,” Sarah Clement said.

As a freshman at McAuley, Clement started at times, made 46 percent of her 3-point attempts and averaged 10 points per game.

“She can handle the ball very well,” McAuley Coach Bill Goodman said. “She can play good defense. She can attack the rim. She sees the court very well. As a freshman I was very impressed.”

Goodman said it is not unusual for colleges to offer top players a scholarship before their junior season. What is unusual is that the offer comes after a major injury.

“UNH liked her before she was hurt and they liked her overall game and they were interested in her a couple years ago,” Goodman said. “If a school wants to get a kid they’re willing to step up.”

Clement is approaching the one-year anniversary of her ACL injury. She said she is still plagued by tendinitis in the knee. While she played over the summer, “I never got through a full game or a full practice.”

Goodman said he does not expect Clement to be at full strength when the season starts, but McAuley will definitely need her contributions. The Lions graduated three key seniors (Allie Clement, Olivia Smith and Jackie Welch). All-Telegram forward Victoria Lux transferred to Thornton Academy.

“We all understand that it’s a much different season and we’re going to have to work harder,” Sarah Clement said. “If we work together good things can happen.”