Keyuana Thompson didn’t know the Alabama State student who walked up to her last week at the Central Regional.
The question was simple and the response quick and happy. Thompson’s reply was automatic.
“He said, ‘Ain’t you a country girl?'” Thompson said. “That’s me.”
Thompson can only presume the man was from her hometown, the place she left two years ago to help her college basketball chances by going to G.W. Carver.
The junior guard is from rural Choctaw County and starred there as a freshman.
Two years later, she’s a leading player for Carver (26-2), which plays Hoover (26-4) at noon today in the Class 6A semifinals in Birmingham.
“I remember when she first came in and told me that she’s a basketball player,” Carver coach Michelle Simmons said. “I looked at her, and she was so small, and I thought, ‘OK.’
“I tell you what. She came in that spring and quickly caught our eye.”
It took Thompson a while to talk her mother into letting her move to Montgomery. She first asked about moving before her freshman year started at Choctaw County. It took Tracedra Smith awhile to give her permission.
“She didn’t want to let go of her baby,” Thompson said.
Thompson went through the necessary paperwork, moved in with her dad, Bobby Bryant, and enrolled at Carver just after basketball season had ended.
She had much of the spring semester to adjust to the Wolverines and her new urban setting.
“There was an interstate and all these cars, where the country has just stop signs,” Thompson said. “Here, you see all these traffic lights and big trucks.”
The basketball move from a team that has never won a regional game to Carver, which now has eight regional championships, has been easier.
“At first, she wasn’t a shooter, but she could do everything else — dribble and pass,” senior Taja-wana Russell said. “I remember thinking, ‘Who does that?’
“But she started growing as a player and started playing 6A basketball.”