Three Northwestern girls basketball players signed scholarship papers Friday. Sha’Shay Alexander, Cayse Branyan and Natalie Henderson inked deals, making it four Trojans girls from this year’s squad that will play at the next level.
Alexander will play at Denmark Tech, a junior college, Branyan will play at Southern Wesleyan and Henderson will play at Anderson University.
Northwestern senior Mariah McCoy signed earlier in the year with Maryland-Eastern Shore, a Division I school.
“To have four girls sign is unreal,” Northwestern coach John Bramlett said Friday. “Shows what kind of kids they are.”
Of the team’s six seniors, four will continue their basketball careers. This year’s bunch makes for eight in Bramlett’s six years, and McCoy is the third of those to go to Division I. Her abilities undoubtedly attracted more recruiters to the school, which in turn benefited her teammates.
“That’s exactly what has happened,” said Bramlett. “And that’s what I preached to them all year. You don’t ever know who’s watching.”
Alexander, a scrappy, tail-busting forward, will suit up next season for Javon Gilliard’s successful Denmark Tech program. The school has won over 40 games the last two seasons, including two Region X championships, and Gilliard has helped his players move on to four-year schools.
In Alexander, Denmark Tech gets a player who grabbed 10 rebounds per game to go with 8 points, and earned All-Region 3-AAAA as a senior.
“She’ll work. She’s one of the hardest workers we have,” said Bramlett. “I can’t wait to see her flourish.”
Alexander was an academic qualifier, so she can transfer after one season at the junior college. She likes North Greenville but indicated she would be open to anything.
“He has such a good reputation for developing players and getting them places,” Bramlett said about Gilliard.
Alexander will study child care at Denmark Tech, but she wants to major in business at whichever four-year school she chooses. Alexander was joined Friday by her mother Tinsel Alexander and her sister Bernayjah Jenkins.
Branyan sought out Southern Wesleyan for one reason: it focuses on forensic science, which caught Branyan’s fancy.
“I was always interested in criminal stuff,” she explained of the school located near Clemson. “I didn’t want to be a cop, and I like science.”
That she’ll get to play basketball in school was just a plus. Branyan averaged 5 points and 3 steals off the bench, and knocked down 42 percent of her 3-pointers as a senior. Branyan shot over 40 percent from 3-point range during her Northwestern career.
“She wasn’t flashy but when I needed energy off the bench she came in and either made a 3-point shot or stole the ball or just made a key play,” said Bramlett. “She’d start for most teams. But the thing about her, she was okay with it. She didn’t care if she started, just came in and did that kind of dirty work we needed.”
Branyan’s parents, Beth and Joey Branyan, joined their daughter at the signing.
The 6-foot-2 Henderson opted for Anderson over offers from Wingate, Guilford and Belmont Abbey.
“That was where I fell in love with it all,” said Henderson, who first started talking with the school last June. “It’s going to be a lot of hard work and dedication, but I know I can do it.”
Henderson averaged 7 points and 11 rebounds per game, while really making her presence felt with three blocks and three steals per game. She wants to major in kinesiology to become an athletic trainer.
Bramlett praised Henderson’s growth in the maturity department “for allowing me to fuss at her. Two years ago if I had fussed at her she would have fell to pieces.
“She’s very mature, she understood her role, and she really became a leader for our team.”
Henderson, the daughter of Bonnie Guinn, was joined by her grandfather, Tom McCarver.
Bret McCormick • 329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T