City League basketball, often loaded with college recruits on the boys side, has undergone a rare flip. Thurgood Marshall senior Cierra Hooks was the only Dayton Public Schools product to participate in Wednesday’s National Signing Day.
An outstanding prospect who excels in transition, Hooks signed a binding letter of intent with Ohio University. She’s the first City League girl to sign with an NCAA Division I program since Meadowdale’s Ebony Gainey signed with Dayton in 2006. A routine medical checkup revealed Gainey had a heart ailment and she never played for the Flyers.
“It’s very different,” Hooks, a 5-foot-7 backcourt standout, said before a packed auditorium at the school. “It’s been a long time. I’m glad I can go down in history at Thurgood.”
Wednesday was considered National Signing Day because it was the first day seniors could fulfill verbal commitments with letters of intent. The early signing period is for all sports except football and runs through Nov. 16. The football signing period begins Feb. 1, 2017.
Joining Hooks in signing to play women’s basketball were Alter standouts Libby Bazelak (Duquesne) and Braxtin Miller (Oklahoma State) and Victoria Harrison of Centerville (Wheeling Jesuit, W.Va.). Bazelak and Miller will be four-year starters and have helped Alter win the last two Division II state championships.
The only area boys to sign for basketball were Keegan Saben of Centerville (West Liberty, W.Va.) and Jackson Center’s Brady Wildermuth (Findlay).
Last year at this time City League boys basketball players Evan Clayborne of Thurgood signed to play at Cleveland State and Stivers’ Isaiah Williams signed with Akron.
Hooks verbally committed to OU last year after also being courted by Ohio State, Xavier, Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Evansville and Toledo. A starter since her freshman season, she’s averaging nearly 15 points through her career despite drawing constant double-team attention.
OU (26-7) lost in the third round of the WNIT to end last season. There are no other area women’s players in the program, but the men’s team features former Alter standout Jaaron Simmons.
Hooks played for former Thurgood coach Tobette Brown as a freshman and sophomore.
“She feels a lot of the pressure off her back with this signing,” said second-year Cougars coach Khalil Franklin. “She’s real excited about going to OU and I know they’re glad to have her.”
Hooks has a 3.5 GPA and has scored high enough on a college entrance exam to be immediately eligible. Preseason boys and girls basketball started last Friday. The girls season begins Nov. 25 and the boys on Dec. 1.
“She’s the epitome of a student-athlete,” DPS athletic director Mark Baker said of Hooks. “She’s completed college credit classes already. She’s done a tremendous job in the classroom and her basketball talent has rewarded her. This is huge. This is special.”
Also signing with OU were Zach Brawford of Vandalia-Butler (golf), Amanda Hayes of Centerville (golf) and Jessie Hartman of Lebanon (track and cross-country).
Most area signees were baseball players, followed by softball.
Wright State signees were Damon Dues (Vandalia-Butler) and Justin McConnell (Springboro) for baseball, Cooper Jones (Centerville) for golf and Jillian Milano (Carroll) for tennis.
Dayton signees were Abby Ehrenborg (Triad) in softball, Noah Connaughton (Badin) for tennis and Kelly Wilker (St. Marys Memorial) for track and cross country.
The only Ohio State signee was Sarah Sperber (Beavercreek) for swimming. Kaleb Romero (Mechanicsburg) is expected to sign with OSU to wrestle.
• Email signing info and signing photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the senior’s name, sport, college, stats and contact information.
View signing photos, video and a list of senior commits at MyDaytonDailyNews.com