College Sports

York's Anderson signs to play hoops at SMU

YORK -- Linda Graham remembered all too well when her daughter would be in tears, watching her teammates play while she sat on the bench, her right ankle bandaged while her Achilles tendon healed.

Thursday made the pain worth it.

Graham's daughter, Nicole Anderson, signed to play basketball at Spartanburg Methodist next year while sitting in York Comprehensive High School's library, flanked by her mother, teammates and present and future coaches. The senior hopes to play two years at SMC and then transfer to Winthrop, which was vital in selecting SMC for a beginning to Anderson's college career.

"I chose to go to Spartanburg Methodist after I took the tour," Anderson said. "It's a good school, real small, with one-on-one teacher-student opportunities."

Anderson averaged around nine points and 7.5 rebounds per game as a junior and had schools interested in her as an academic recipient who could walk on to the basketball team. A 3.21 grade-point-average forward with good rebounding tenacity and surprising grace passing the ball, Anderson teamed with her sister, sophomore Tikierra Anderson, for a 1-2 punch on the block.

But Anderson suffered the Achilles injury during preseason conditioning and was told while she may be able to come back, it didn't look very good. Comforting her sobbing child, Graham told Anderson that while it was gloomy now, the picture would clear up.

"She was just so depressed, especially during the games," Graham said. "But she worked extra hard and got back."

Anderson only played in a handful of games last season but SMC never backed off the recruitment. Coach Ralph Patin, who attended Thursday's ceremony, said the injury was just a bump in the road.

"I was recruiting a player, but I was also recruiting a person," Patin said. "She's such a good person and I wanted her around."

Patin, Graham and Tikierra Anderson stood by while Nicole Anderson signed her forms, before the rest of the Lady Cougars surrounded her for pictures and cake. York coach Paula Blackwell, who expects to see another of her brood sign a scholarship next week, beamed almost as proudly as Graham.

"I never doubted Nicole," Blackwell said. "She's just one of those kids who has always worked hard. She's got a lot of perseverance; she's a gentle giant. She wants to be an elementary school teacher and Spartanburg Methodist's getting a quality kid."