Sun-kissed palm trees, a serene ocean and cloudless sky all make up the background of the Florida Gulf Coast University athletics website.
So, it may be silly to ask why the Fort Myers, Fla., school appealed to rising Carolina Day senior Haley Laughter.
But it's a question she is happy to answer nonetheless.
The two-time All-WNC forward and reigning Carolinas Athletic Association player of the year committed to play basketball for the Eagles over the weekend.
"The school itself is great, and I don't know anyone who could say no to going to college at the beach," Laughter said.
"I really liked everything about the basketball program, from the girls on the team to the coaches. They've been nothing but supportive and made me feel like I'd fit in well."
Florida Gulf Coast advanced to last season's NCAA tournament after winning the Atlantic Sun Championship. But the Eagles faced competition from a number of in-state and regional Division I colleges, including UNC Asheville, when it came to landing Laughter.
Laughter led the Wildcats (30-2) to their second straight NCISAA 2-A championship last season after averaging 17.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals a game. Laughter also earned all-state honors from the NCISAA for the third straight season.
When it came to recruiting, she had a confidant to rely on in rising senior guard Allison Beasley.
Beasley made a Division I commitment in May (Furman).
"Allison and I are best friends, and it's always nice to have someone to talk to when you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed (with recruiting)," Laughter said.
She was also selected to the All-CAA and All-WNC teams as a junior after averaging 15.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.4 steals per game.
"It's a lot less stressful for us now. We can just relax," Beasley said. "We always went to each other and tried to help weigh the pros and cons of every school. We were there for each other the whole time."
With Beasley and Laughter back in the mix, Carolina Day figures to be one of the favorites to win a NCISAA 2-A championship once again in 2013. Even if the Wildcats lost two other Division I recruits to graduation -- Jessica Edmonds (Liberty) and Jessica Farmer (Elon).
"I think we're going to be pretty strong," Beasley said.
"We're all working hard in our workouts and really trying to increase our strength and conditioning. We're looking forward to it."