Takeya Day and Mariah Lawrence, Cleveland State basketball teammates the past two years, are moving on to the Ohio Valley Conference.
Day, a darting 5-foot-1 point guard from Red Bank High School, signed scholarship papers with Jacksonville (Ala.) State University. Lawrence, a 5-9 shooting guard from Maryville High, signed Thursday with Eastern Kentucky.
“I think probably early on there were people who may have doubted Takeya because of her size, but the first time I saw her play I knew I needed her on my team,” Cleveland State coach Dan Lumpkin said. “I think [JSU’s coaches] saw some of the same stuff I saw in her. There are three main things: her speed, her quickness and her tenacity, going after the ball with no regard for her body.”
Day led the TCCAA in steals and assists both of her seasons with the Lady Cougars, with 4.9 and 4.5 this past season. She was second in NJCAA Division I in thefts, while also averaging right at 10 points a game.
She picked JSU primarily over Tennessee State and persistent NAIA schools Martin Methodist and Reinhardt. The rebuilding Lady Gamecocks recruited her and high schooler Kaitlynn Pacholke from Tampa for their vacant point guard spot.
“It’s not too far from home and not to close, and I like their academics,” said Day, who plans to major in criminal justice. “And it’s Division I.”
Annette Watts said on the JSU website that Day’s two years of college experience “will expedite her transition into our system. Her speed and tenacious on-ball defense brings an element that our defensive scheme needs to be successful. KeKe is full of energy and leads with enthusiasm; she is one exciting little player.”
Lawrence grew up in Williamstown, Ky., about 45 minutes from EKU’s Richmond campus, moving to Maryville during her seventh-grade year.
“It came down to EKU and Troy University,” she said. “A bunch of NAIA schools and Division II schools were recruiting me, but those two are Division I. I have relatives in that part of Kentucky who have never seen me play, so it’s exciting for me to go back up there.”
The Lady Colonels are graduating their 2 guard and have not had a truly dangerous 3-point threat for several years, Lumpkin said.
“Mariah made 120 3s in her two years here,” he said. “I hope she can go in and work really hard and have that same kind of success for them.”
Lawrence averaged 10 points a game both years, Lumpkin noted. She had a high of 19 in one game.