Leader Blues

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

SPORTS>>Five Red Devils move on

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

A grand total of five Jacksonville athletes signed scholarship offers Thursday morning and will continue their sports careers in college. Three basketball players, Kajuan Watson, Gerron Riddles and Tarneshia Scott, and two softball players, Ellen Burr and Rochelle Holder, are moving on to the next level of sports competition.

Watson was Jacksonville’s leading scorer this season and was the team’s only three-year starter. He signed with Missouri State-West Plains Junior College, which he chose over Arkansas-Fort Smith among other schools that had shown some interest.

He took his visit to the school three weeks ago, but admitted that he didn’t make his final decision until very recently. “I didn’t really know until last night,” Watson said. “The schools were about the same. I just really liked the team and the staff at Missouri State. They made me feel like family.”

Watson was All-Conference for three years for Jacksonville and made the All-State team and All-State tournament team this season in leading the Red Devils to a state semifinal appearance. Most recently he was named the most valuable player in the annual Metro All-Star game which is held for the top senios in Pulaski County.

His teammate Gerron Riddles signed with Shorter College in North Little Rock. Riddles is a 6-foot-6 post player that has been one of the most improved players on the team, according to his basketball coach Vic Joyner. “G (Riddles) has worked hard and that’s why he got this offer,” Joyner said. “We talked about what he had to do at the beginning of the year to get better and he went out and did it.”

Riddles made no secret about why he chose Shorter.

“Basically because that was my only offer,” Riddles said. “I’m just happy to make it to the next level. I know I’ve got two more years now on my basketball card. Hopefully I can make the most of it, keep getting better and move up into a four-year school.”

Scott signed with Division III Texas State-Dallas on an academic scholarship. She carries a 3.8 accumulative grade-point average and chose TSD over UT-Arlington and Texas State-San Marcos, also D-III colleges.

Other small colleges were interested in Scott, who led the team in scoring the past three years and averaged a double-double the past two, but she only looked at Texas.

“I just knew I didn’t want to go to school in Arkansas,” Scott said. “I have some family in Texas and I just wanted to get out on my own.”

Burr also signed an academic scholarship with Hendrix College in Conway. She has been a key player for the Lady Red Devil fastpitch team since her freshman year when she was the designated hitter. She is a four-year letterman and has made All-Conference twice. Burr carries a 3.525 GPA and says she doesn’t care what position she ends up playing in college.

“I’ve played a lot of positions for Jacksonville and we really haven’t talked about that yet,”Burr said. “I just love softball and want to keep playing.”

Holder is headed to LeMoyne-Owen College, an NAIA Division I school in Memphis, to play two sports. She believes she will likely be a defensive specialist in volleyball and an outfielder on the softball team.

“I really love both sports so when they said I could play both I was really excited,” Holder said. “Plus they gave me a full ride so that was awesome. It was a really easy decision.”

Thursday’s quintet of Red Devils makes eight players from the school to sign scholarships this year. Football players Norvel Gabriel, Daniel Hubbard and ?? signed scholarships earlier this year.