November 12, 2010 7:43:00 AM
MABEN -- Shamia Robinson made history Thursday.
The 5-foot-8 senior basketball player became the first female to earn a scholarship to a Division I school when she signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball at Mississippi State.
Robinson averaged 18.8 points, 9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.4 blocked shots, and 1.9 steals per game last season. She also had scholarship offers from Georgia, the University of Mississippi, Southern Miss, and others.
"It feels great being the first female to sign a full scholarship with a university," Robinson said. "I am ready and willing to work."
Robinson said her time playing with coach Moses James and the Mississippi Hoop Dreams, an Amateur Athletic Union travel team, helped her improve and attract the attention of college coaches. She feels she was able to showcase her rebounding ability and her tenacity. As a result, she said she received a ton of phone calls.
Robinson said she wanted to make a decision to conclude the process. She will continue to improve her ballhandling and her outside shooting so she can have an even better senior season and prepare for her freshman year in college, where she expects to play small forward.
"I feel comfortable (at MSU)," Robinson said. "I know I am going to have a lot of family support and support from the school. I want to be close to home. I want to represent the state of Mississippi."
Dan Olson, a former college basketball coach who runs the recruiting service Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, said Robinson has a chance to be a contributor in the Southeastern Conference. Although she is ranked in the top 500-600 in the nation, Olson said Robinson has the athleticism, lateral quickness, agility, and explosiveness to compete in the SEC.
"She is not one of the major, elite kids. She is more of a under-the-radar kid who has a chance to become a real player," Olson said. "She is a SEC-type level of an athlete. She is an explosive, athletic perimeter player who handles it and has long arms and is a slasher."
West Oktibbeha coach Sheila Young-Bailey has coached Robinson for two seasons. She feels Robinson will adjust well to MSU because she is "fearless." She is looking forward to getting Robinson, who is sidelined until early next month with torn meniscus in her left knee, back so she can help round her into shape for this season and her future.
"I just want her to push herself," Young-Bailey said. "She is a leader for the girls, so this is going to help them push themselves because they want to experience this."
Young-Bailey said Robinson''s attitude has improved in the past few years to the point where she is more vocal and is a better leader. She expects Robinson to play an even bigger role when she returns to the court.
"My first year here she wasn''t out there, but last year she started stepping up, and this year I expect her to be at that level and she is getting everybody where the need to be," Young-Bailey said. "Her leadership role will play an important part."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.