0

Crisp County hoops star Oliver commits to UGA

Crisp County's Nasheema Oliver hugs Georgia women's basketball coach Andy Landers on Sunday after telling him she is committing to play for the Lady Bulldogs.

Crisp County's Nasheema Oliver hugs Georgia women's basketball coach Andy Landers on Sunday after telling him she is committing to play for the Lady Bulldogs.

CORDELE — Nasheema Oliver calls her dad’s ribs the best in all of Southwest Georgia.

Georgia women’s basketball coach Andy Landers agreed with the Crisp County star center on Sunday and then moments later landed a commitment from one of the best prep players in the state.

Oliver, a Herald Super 6er and senior at Crisp County, committed to UGA on Sunday, and the 6-foot-2 center said the deciding factor was Landers’ trip to Cordele earlier that evening.

“(Sunday) he came down to my house, sat in my living room and ate ribs that my dad cooked,” said Oliver, who had previously narrowed her decision down to either Georgia or Florida. “Coach Landers said those ribs were some of the best he ever had. … I made my decision after we ate. He was walking out to his car, and I told him that I was ready to commit to Georgia.”

Oliver’s commitment to Georgia comes after a junior year when she was dismissed mid-season from the Crisp County team after an incident with coach Barrett Wilkes. Initially, Oliver’s father, Greg Oliver, told The Herald that she would not be returning to the Lady Cougars for her senior season. But on Monday, Oliver said she is ready to return to Crisp and finish her high school career as a Lady Cougar.

“I couldn’t leave my teammates,” Oliver said. “I know my teammates look up to me, and I wanted to stay with my senior class. Once a Cougar, always a Cougar.”

Oliver and the Lady Cougars made school history in 2011 when they advanced to the Class AAA Final Four for the first time, and Oliver led Crisp to a region championship as a sophomore in 2012. Before her dismissal last season, she was averaging 16.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots a game.

Now she is taking her talents to Athens, where the Lady Bulldogs plan to play her in the power forward position.

“We’re very, very excited,” said Molly Speir, who coached Oliver from 2011-12 before being replaced by Wilkes, her long-time assistant, last season. “She made a very wise decision. Georgia has been following her since she was a freshman. I couldn’t be happier for her.”

Nobody is happier than Oliver, who said it was a relief to make her commitment before her senior season.

“I am excited to play with a talented group of girls,” she said. “I know they are going to make me better. I am ready to get up there and work hard and get an NCAA championship ring. I plan to put Cordele on the map and plan to do big things there.”