Hamilton Heights had two players sign college scholarship papers on Thursday.
Sammy Itodo, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound center from Nigeria, signed with Gardner-Webb and Esmery Martinez, a 6-foot-3 guard from the Dominican Republic, decided to continue her education and athletic career at Mississippi State.
“I’m excited to sign at Gardner-Webb because I love the culture they have on campus and the basketball program is run by people passionate not only about succeeding in basketball, but also interested in helping players reach their highest potentials on and off the court,” Itodo said in a release from Hamilton Heights.
Itodo and the Hawks open their season Friday, hosting Griffin Christian from McDonough, Georgia.
“Sammy has worked extremely hard to earn this opportunity and will take full advantage of it,” Hamilton Heights coach Zach Ferrell said. “His story is incredible.
“Ten months ago Sammy was living in northern Nigeria without any running water and today he is signing a full college scholarship. We are excited about being a small part of Sammy’s journey and watching what God has in store for him in the future.”
Gardner-Webb is located in Boiling Springs, North Carolina and competes in the Big South Conference.
Martinez becomes the second Hamilton Heights player to sign with Mississippi State. Two years ago, Abdul Ado joined the Bulldogs and is a redshirt sophomore at the SEC school.
Martinez, who will guide the Lady Hawks against Providence Christian on Friday, said, “The belief that coach (Vic) Schaefer has in me as a player, and the family atmosphere they have created is amazing. I believe Mississippi State will be the place that will help me become the best player and woman I can be.”
Lady Hawks coach Keisha Hunt added, “Esmery is a very strong and smart player. She is one of the best rebounders I have ever coached and I think she will be able to make an immediate impact (at) the next level with her rebounding abilities and basketball IQ.”
(Contact Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @larryfleming44)