Ivory Latta, who scored 70 points the last time she played in the York Comprehensive High School gym, returned to her alma mater on Saturday to instruct children ages 7-15 on the finer points of the game.
Interacting with basketball clinic participants in her flamboyant style, the former YCHS and North Carolina sensation lit up like a Christmas tree when asked about her new role with the WNBA's Atlanta Dream.
Latta, the career scoring leader in South Carolina high school basketball who became a national icon in leading the Tar Heels to ACC supremacy, is expected to impact the new franchise in a huge way.
"I am excited about the opportunity in Atlanta," Latta said. "With great players surrounding me, I feel I can make a difference."
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Sprague Paynter, public relations and community relations coordinator for the Dream, believes Latta will make that difference.
"Ivory is a big draw in Atlanta," Paynter said. "The fans are excited about watching her play. They watched Ivory on TV when she played for UNC."
Paynter said Atlanta has a good mix of veterans and young players ready to prove their worth at the professional level.
"We've had good response," Paynter said of public reaction. "We're the only WNBA franchise in the Southeast."
Accompanying the 5-foot-6 Latta was towering 6-foot-8 post player Katie Feenstra, the tallest player in the WNBA and Latta's teammate with Detroit last season.
Feenstra will also be a member of the Dream's inaugural club, and she, too, is feeling positive vibes from the Atlanta populace.
"We've had good response," Feenstra said following an autograph session. "Organizers have put together a good team in Atlanta. I think the fans will enjoy watching us grow and develop."
Latta, who sharpened her skills playing basketball in Israel in the offseason, speaks in glowing terms of Atlanta organization.
"We have a great staff," she said. "It makes you look forward to practice."
Latta was in rare form at the well-attended clinic, doing push-ups at will and jokingly chiding a youngster wearing a Duke shirt.
"Coming back to the community and helping these kids is what it's all about," she said. "I love that."
Parents of the participants, seated in the bleachers at the storied dome, appeared to enjoy Latta's antics as much as the kids.
"Ivory hasn't changed. She's still loads of fun," one mom was overheard saying as she left the building.
Members of the YCHS girls varsity basketball team, assisted by Latta and Feenstra, conducted the clinic.
Paula Blackwell, head girls basketball coach at YCHS, coordinated the event.
"We were pleased with the turnout on a rainy day and it not being basketball season," Blackwell said. "The community always supports Ivory as they do all of our athletes."
Blackwell lauded the efforts of the Atlanta Dream organization.
"They are doing a great job of promoting women's basketball," she said. "We hope the people in our area will respond and make the road trip; it's not that far."
Blackwell said she will accompany a group of 20 or so coaches, administrators and friends to Atlanta for the May 25 home game against Los Angeles.
The Dream's first home game is May 23 against the Detroit Shock. For more on The Dream, visit www.AtlantaDream.net.