Aiken High girls' basketball coach Aubrey Pompey said he was tickled when seniors Zymbraya Corley and Jakovia Raiford informed him of their plan to attend college together.
Thursday, they signed to continue on as teammates at USC Salkehatchie, where they'll be members of a brand-new women's basketball program. Corley will be a dual-sport athlete in college, pledging to also play volleyball.
"They don't know that I kind of really got on a high, but I'm very excited for them," said Pompey. "I think they have a lot of potential to do well. Even more so than that, just being able to have something to assist them going through college, I think that's the important thing."
Corley and Raiford both said the small-school, family-like feel at USC Salkehatchie was appealing, and each is looking forward to making that transition and helping start a new program together.
"I feel great, because we're real good friends and I trust her," Corley said. "I know she'll always have my back, and I'll have hers. Whether or not we have our differences, I know she'll always have my back."
"We build together through basketball and we became closer," Raiford added, "and now we have a friendship outside of school, inside school, on the court, off the court, so I feel like that's great, too."
Corley has already made one big transition, transferring from Class A Wagener-Salley to Class AAAA Aiken for her final two years of high school. She came to Aiken ready to fight for her position on the floor, helping the volleyball team win a state championship while also playing key minutes during basketball season. She feels that was good preparation to move forward to the college level.
"I'm ready to start, ready to see how the college game is going to feel," said Corley, who plans to study biology. "I know I've got to work hard to earn my spot on the volleyball team. I'm willing to do it."
Raiford got off to a quick start with the Hornets, starting on the varsity team as a sophomore. Pompey said her abilities as a player and as a leader – he called her his voice on the court – will be helpful to the Indians' new program.
"It feels amazing, because I didn't think I was going to go off to school to play college ball," said Raiford, who plans to study sociology. "So the fact that I have the opportunity to play ball again for the new two years I think is a good opportunity."