FAIRFIELD — Vanden High’s Kayla Blair is headed to the beach.
The Solano County Athletic Conference girls basketball Player of the Year as a junior last season admits that she isn’t much of a swimmer, but accepting a full scholarship to play for Pepperdine University in Malibu is just fine for Blair.
“It was pretty exciting,” Blair said. “It’s in Malibu. We went to the beach when I was there. It’s Division I. They gave me a full scholarship.”
Blair, who was named to the Cal-Hi Sports Division III All-State team on Friday, averaged 15 points per game last season, nearly three rebounds per outing and two steals, according to Maxpreps.com.
University of the Pacific, Saint Mary’s and the University of San Francisco were also interested in Blair, but the 5-foot-9 guard said the staff for the Waves was a turning point.
“I just really liked the coaches when they started recruiting me,” Blair said. “They felt like family to me. The girls said the coaches will treat you like family. That was it.
“It was important to me because I would be away from home. I will feel comfortable to have somebody to talk to.”
Vanden coach Allison Johnson said Blair could step in during the fall of 2015 and make an impact right away.
“Kayla is athletic. Her strength is such an asset,” Johnson said. “She’s one of best defensive players I ever coached. Thats a great compliment. It’s a great fit top to bottom. She wanted them and they wanted her.”
Johnson said she and Blair liked the atmosphere Pepperdine offered,
“It’s a small school numerically (and) it has a great student-to-teacher ratio, small class sizes” the coach said. “It’s close enough (to home) and far enough. The coaching staff is outstanding. They recruited Kayla the human, not just the basketball player.”
The Waves struggled on the court least season, finishing with a 6-25 record, including a 1-17 mark in West Coast Conference play.
“I think I’ll bring defensive help and offense,” said Blair, who added she will go into her freshman year with an undeclared major but will likely end up studying sports medicine and physical therapy. “I drive a lot, go to the basket a lot.”
Added Johnson, “Her athleticism, her ability to score a variety of ways (will be an asset). She can pull up for jumpers. She can shoot threes. That’s what they need. ands she’s a tremendous defensive player.”
With her senior season ahead and her college choice already made, Johnson said Blair can relax and try to get the Vikings back to the NorCal Tournament again this coming season.
“I believe it’s a well-deserved deep breath,” Johnson said. “She can celebrate that while she can still be a leader on her team.”
It’s always easier to breathe when your college tuition is paid for.
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.