Thomson High School senior LaVance Yarbough has signed a commitment to play basketball at Edward Waters College. He said he expects to play for the Jacksonville, Fla., school his freshman year.
His parents, Larance and Annie Belle Yarbough, were on hand at the school Friday. The basketball star said his mother kept him focused.
"She kept my head on straight," he said.
"I'm very excited. I can't wait to leave" for college.
He plans to major in culinary arts and business administration.
At THS, Yarbough joined the weightlifting team this spring and belongs to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
"It's good," he said. "It teaches you how to focus on your sport and God at the same time."
In a separate photo session at the school on Thursday, Yarbough was joined by assistant basketball coach Mark Halversen, assistant coach Chris Harris, assistant principal Roderick Hilton, and athletic director Milan Turner. Harris coached Yarbough for four years, two years in junior varsity and two years in varsity.
"LaVance is the epitome of what it means to be a Thomson High basketball player," coach Michael Thomas said Friday. "LaVance, despite humble beginnings, but by being disciplined, mentally tough and working hard, has made himself into a collegiate player while helping the team succeed."
Thomas said Yarbough's basketball potential was unclear after his freshman year.
"He was weak; he was uncoordinated; he lacked the fundamentals of the game," Thomas said.
The coach said he helped each player with a list of goals. "LaVance's list was longer than anybody else's," he said.
"But in April of that offseason he showed up every afternoon for individual work, weight training, jump rope, the whole thing."
Yarbough said Thomas got him on track with that weight training and footwork after his freshman year.
Yarbough, who stands 6-foot-6, started at center his senior year. He also was a starter as a junior, after playing two years with the junior varsity. He averaged 17.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game as he earned the scholarship to Edward Waters, a private, historically black college.
Edward Waters is part of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The other member schools are:
Dillard University, New Orleans; Fisk University, Nashville, Tenn.; Southern University, New Orleans; Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, Miss.; and Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans.