Darton State College sophomore basketball players, from left, Iesha Bonner, Kadayasha Jones, Cassie Eleby, Brooke Davidson, DaQuenna Moore, Cedricka Sweeting, Jasmine Wilson and Vanessa Akra sign committments to four-year universities on Tuesday. Standing behind the players are head coach Lea Henry, left and assistant coach Courtney Pritchett. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — Darton’s sophomore basketball class won 53 games over the past two seasons, guiding the Lady Cavs to an NJCAA national tournament berth as freshmen and helping them go 13-1 at home and advance to the Region XVII championship game last season.
On Tuesday, all eight sophomores sat shoulder-to-shoulder just outside the school’s gymnasium and committed to four-year schools.
“It’s a phenomenal accomplishment when you look at that table and see all eight of them with an opportunity to continue on and get their education,” said head coach Lea Henry, who took over the Darton program in 2011. “It’s because they worked hard while they were here and put themselves in the position to be wanted by other programs. All eight have done a tremendous job for our program.”
Three Lady Cavs are headed to Division II Columbus State University and will join former Darton star and Region XVII Player of the Year Michelle Mitchell — who had verbally committed to Albany State late in 2013 but then changed course and signed with CSU in February. On Tuesday, Iesha Bonner and Kadayasha Jones signed athletic scholarships with CSU, while Cassie Eleby signed an academic scholarship and will attempt to walk on for the Lady Cougars.
Former Lee County star post player and Herald Super 6er DaQuenna Moore and star point guard Cedricka Sweeting signed with Division II Clayton State University; Jasmine Wilson signed with NAIA school Middle Georgia State College; Vanessa Akra signed with Tuskegee University; and Brooke Davidson signed an academic scholarship at Division III LaGrange College.
Henry said Mitchell and Chanteniece Fann, who both graduated from Darton in 2013, put the program on the map, which helped her recruit the type of talent the team is now full of.
“After that, players wanted to come here. Now we are turning down a lot of kids because Darton State College speaks for itself when you come on campus and you see the type of facilities we have and the living arrangements they will have,” said Henry, a former standout basketball player at Tennessee who later coached at Georgia State, Mercer and the University of Florida.
“It sells itself, and when you talk about our (athletic) facility, it’s definitely a Division I facility. Once people get to know our program, they understand the academic part of Darton and that we are going to move our kids on and they will be successful wherever they go. It’s been a lot of fun, and I hope that in the years to come we can build on what we have done our first three years.”