WARRENTON, Ga. -- Candice Warthen has been a basketball star in the making for years.
Now the Warren County senior has realized her biggest dream of all -- getting to play college basketball.
The 17-year-old signed a national letter of intent to play for the University of Arizona during a special ceremony held in the school's media center last Wednesday. She was surrounded by family, friends and school faculty members.
"I'm so excited, I don't know what to do," said Warthen before signing her letter of intent to play for the Arizona Lady Wildcats next year. "This is like a dream come true for me. I've wanted to play college basketball since I was a little girl. And now I'm going to get that chance. It's great."
She becomes the first female basketball star in the Class A school's history to play for a Division 1 NCAA team.
"This is something she's worked very, very hard to accomplish," said Jamaal Rhoades, her former high school basketball coach. "I knew she was special when I first saw her on the basketball court."
Rhoades helped Warthen prepare a highlight tape that he distributed to several coaches in attendance at an AAU event later. She received dozens of letters expressing interest from several colleges, but none more than the University of Arizona.
Warthen, the daughter of Makessa Erwin, stands 5-foot-4-inches tall, but is a deadly shot from just about any spot on the floor, including the three-point range.
"She's a terrific kid who deserves to be playing basketball at the Division 1 level," added Rhoades.
Now that Warthen knows has some idea about what the future holds, she believes she can better concentrate on her senior season, which is right around the corner.
"I'm looking forward to my senior season, because it's my last one in high school and I want to really put forth my best effort," said Warthen during an interview with The McDuffie Mirror . "I hope I can help the team win a region championship and who knows maybe a state championship. That would be awesome."
She was quick to point out that it will take not only her contribution, but the contribution of everybody on the team to accomplish those feats.
"It's not just about me, it's about us," said Warthen. "We have to play as a team."