ROCKVILLE — Saying good-bye never brought out so many smiles.
Four former Solano Community College basketball standouts – Tahron Morrison of the men’s team, Ariel Clay, Taylor Hamilton and Denisha Lundy of the Falcons women’s team – signed letters of intent in a ceremony in Hall of Fame foyer of the school’s gym, Tuesday.
Solano men’s coach John Nagle called the ceremony “Joyful.”
“I’m so happy for the athletes and their families,” he added.
“This day is really special,” Falcons women’s coach Matt Borchert said. “I think it just proves what we do here at Solano, where it’s a great place for local kids to come and get off to a great start with their educations. There are so many great schools out there that have great basketball teams.”
Morrison, a Vanden graduate, is headed to Holy Names University of Oakland, as is Clay, a Rodriguez grad.
Lundy, another graduate of Vanden, is bound for St. Gregory’s of Shawnee, Okla.
Hamilton, who prepped at St. Patrick’s of Vallejo, is going to Our Lady of the Lake of San Antonio, Texas, which is coached by former Vacaville Christian, Vacaville and Napa Valley College coach Chris Minner.
“It’s a neat message,” Borchert said of the foursome’s choice of schools. “You don’t have to be that name school. It’s where the school fits right, the school feels right and it has your major.”
Each of the four feels they’ve found the right fit and can’t wait to get going.
More than the campus itself, the 6-foot-8 Morrison said he was sold by “the coaching staff, the way they pursued me throughout the season.
“That was a big plus for me. They actually made a commitment to me as a player. Before anything else they made me feel like they wanted me to play for them. That was a big factor in me wanting to play for them.”
Morrison is taller than anyone who played for HNU last season and figures to give the Hawks versatility and flexibility in the front court.
“He was so productive on the court,” Nagle said. “He anchored the defense and was productive on offense. . . He’s poetry in motion on the court physically.”
Hamilton, an all-state second team all-state selection, is the only one of the four who didn’t make a recruiting trip to their new school, but is confident she’ll like it.
“A trip really won’t change my decision,” she said. “I’m already 100 percent for it. I just expect it to be the best. I’ll have the best time out there. I’ll meet new people, I’ll have new experiences. I’ll have a great time.”
That positive attitude is one of the things that sold Minner on the 5-foot-2 Hamilton.
“She can handle the ball,” Minner said. “Our point guard graduated last year, so we need a point guard, someone to handle the pressure right away.”
Minner also likes that Hamilton is a lefty, which will fit in with the tradition of the young Saints program, which was 27-5 and made the NAIA sweet 16 last season, just its fifth.
“We’ve always had a left-handed point guard,” the coach said. “Since I’ve been here all our point guards have been left-handed. We kept that tradition. And she knows how to win. That’s a key.”
Lundy, who essentially gave the Falcons another point guard to go with Hamilton, also knows how to win, having helped lead Vanden to four straight Solano County Athletic Conference titles and Solano to the Bay Valley Conference crown last season.
The third-team all-state selection goes to a Cavaliers squad coming off a 4-24 and plays in the rugged Sooner Athletic Conference.
“After seeing her play, her ability to handle the basketball and court vision, those two things stood out,” said St. Gregory’s coach Josiah White. “She’s a great passer, she sees floor really well. She distributes the ball to people when they need it and at the right spot. On top of that, her ability to score is what we needed, it’s an added bonus.”
A bonus for Lundy is the St. Gregory’s campus, which she fell in love with during a visit earlier this year.
“It has a real homey environment,” she said. “I felt I could make an impact there. I felt I could be happy there. That’s important because if you’re happy you perform well.”
Clay didn’t have as far to go for her visit to Holy Names, but likewise came away with a good feeling.
“I was pretty much sold after my visit,” she said. “It’s a close-knit community campus.
Clay, who like Lundy and Hamilton plans to be a criminal justice major, likes what the HNU has to offer academically and athletically.
“I couldn’t ask for more in a school,” she said.
The Hawks graduate seven seniors, including Armijo graduate Renique Fitzpatrick and Fairfield’s Amnesty Bradley, but return point guard Jalá Carter, who was a teammate of Clay’s at Rodriguez.
“We watched her for the last couple years over there (at Solano),” said Holy Names women’s coach Dave Covell. “Just her on-the-court stuff, her versatility, her ability to play multiple positions, just being the player she is going to bring a lot of things to our program. . . . We’re just excited to adding her to the team to the court.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.