NICEVILLE, Fla. — Earlier this month, Darton State sophomore Shanea Armbrister played alongside the top women’s basketball players in the Caribbean, and this weekend she will suit up with the best junior college players in the U.S.
It’s been a productive and honor-filled summer for the star guard, who is one of just 40 junior college players participating in this weekend’s NJCAA All-Star Weekend at Northwest Florida State.
Following a Friday afternoon practice with her All-Star teammates, Armbrister said the experience has been an honor.
“My coach (Lea Henry) is here to watch me, and I’m hoping I can show off a little bit for her and show her that she has a player she can count on,” Armbrister said. “I want to represent Darton to the best of my ability. … I think playing in the All-Star game is similar to playing AAU. You have to show coaches that you are what they need in their programs. It’s like a spotlight right now.”
Armbrister has deservedly earned her time in the spotlight.
She was the 2014 Region XVII Freshman of the Year and an NJCAA All-American after averaging 18.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game last season for the Lady Cavs.
She has balanced traveling with the Bahamian national team with her summer classes and other basketball responsibilities, and Henry said she is one of the top players suiting up for the All-Star weekend.
“I think she has really improved since last season,” Henry said. “She has worked hard in the weight room and has gotten stronger. The experience of playing international basketball has helped her become more physical and aggressive.
“She has been really committed and has done extremely well this summer. If she can stay healthy and focused, I think she will have a phenomenal sophomore year for us.”
Armbrister will compete in two All-Star games today and Sunday in front of a crowd of Division I coaches. She remains uncommitted but said on Friday that the University of Georgia — one of several top-tier programs recruiting Armbrister — is a frontrunner.
“The thought of possibly playing for Georgia and (head coach) Andy Landers is exciting,” Armbrister said. “I think I can reach my potential playing in a program like that.”
Armbrister and former Darton teammate Cedricka Sweeting were members of the 12-team Bahamian senior national team this summer and represented their home country in the Caribbean Basketball Confederation championship tournament.
Among eight Caribbean teams, Armbrister finished tied for fourth in scoring with an average of 15.8 points per game during tournament play. Sweeting, who now plays at Division II Clayton State University, was tied for seventh in assists with three per game. The Bahamian team finished fifth in the tournament, which was played in the British Virgin Islands.
“It was a privilege to represent my country,” said Armbrister, who played on the Bahamian junior national team in 2008 and won a gold medal in the Junior Olympics. “I was very, very, very honored to wear Bahamas across my chest. It was like I was playing for something bigger than myself.”
Armbrister joins Michelle Mitchell as only the second Lady Cav to play in the NJCAA All-Star Weekend since it began in 2009, and Henry said it’s just another opportunity for her to showcase her talent.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Henry said. “This is the second week on the recruiting calendar for D-1 coaches, and she’s already gotten a lot of letters from coaches who are going to be down there.”