Southwood senior and Times All-City Player of the Year Jessy Ellis will join the ever growing throng of northwest Louisiana players heading to McNeese State to play college basketball when she signs scholarship papers with coach Brooks Donald-Williams on Friday.
She will go from being a Lady Cowboy to being a Cowgirl.
“I just felt comfortable with their program and their coaches,” Ellis said. “They made me feel at home, and the fact that some other players from this area are going there made a big difference. We can all go in together and help the program grow.”
When Ellis officially signs, all five first-team members of the Times All-City team will be headed to Division I schools to continue their basketball careers.
Already headed to Lake Charles are Natchitoches Central standout Victoria Rachal and Saline High’s KeAnna Rainwater, who signed during the early period. Both players were on the Times All-Area team. Byrd’s Diamond Willis inked with the Cowgirls during a signing party on Wednesday at the school.
Huntington’s Khadijah West followed through with her earlier verbal to Arkansas and signed with the SEC school on Wednesday. The 6-foot-2 Times All-City player averaged 18.7 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks per contest for coach Danielle Butler.
“It was mixed emotions. I was nervous, but excited,” West said. “But once I signed, it was one of the best feelings I’ve had. It’s the next step to enable me to take care of my son and do great things.”
Another All-City player, Plain Dealing’s Dennisha Chambers, signed with Grambling on Wednesday in a ceremony at the school in northern Bossier Parish. The diminutive Chambers was a force in the 2013 Girls All-Star game while teamed with Ellis.
During the season, Chambers averaged 38 points per game, but her team struggled for most of the season. She was the 2012 Class A Player of the Year.
Willis signed with Donald-Williams in the Purple and Gold room at Byrd in front of the Lady Jackets varsity and junior varsity teams, her family and the school’s administration.
“I was a little nervous at first, but then I got over that. Then I cried and some of my teammates cried, because I’m going to miss being with them,” Willis said.
She spurned a late rush from Grambling to stick with the Cowgirls program that is a perennial Southland Conference title contender.
The 6-foot Willis averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists per game for coach Toni Martinez.
“As a coach, you always want your players to choose a place where they will grow as a player and a young lady,” said Byrd head coach Toni Martinez. “I think McNeese is the perfect place for Diamond to do these things. I have the upmost respect for the coaching staff and the positive influence they have on their young ladies. I feel very confident that Diamond will reach her true basketball potential in the next four years as a McNeese Cowgirl.”
The fifth member of the Times All-City team, Kourtney Pennywell of Southwood, signed with Northwestern State in the fall. She averaged 15.8 points and 6.8 rebounds for coach Steve McDowell.