O’Neal receives perfect birthday gift

Published 4:56 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Milestone birthday presents can vary from cars to exotic vacations, to boats and everything in between.

Southside senior Ka’Nyah O’Neal received a college basketball scholarship for her 18thbirthday.

O’Neal, the most accomplished player in Seahawks program history, will play for the Fayetteville State Broncos next season. The Broncos won 11 of their last 12 regular season games to finish 18-7 overall and 14-2 in the Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), but lost to Johnson C. Smith in the first round of the league tournament in Baltimore in late February.

Less than a week later, the school announced that coach Serena King-Coleman was being relieved of her duties and that nine-year assistant Tyreece Brown was stepping in as the interim head coach.

“The coaching change doesn’t bother me,” O’Neal said. “I really liked the campus and my future teammates when I visited and it’s the best situation for me. I’m relieved that the recruiting process is over so now I can focus on being ready to play when I get there. It was stressful trying to make contact with coaches, so I’m glad that part is finished”

O’Neal led the Seahawks to a 25-7 record and the fourth round of the 1A state playoffs. She averaged 29.3 points a game, which was fourth in the state in all classifications and her 12.1 rebounds per game were 22nd best.

She was named the Coastal Plains Conference Player of the Year for the third straight time and earned All-District honors from the state coaches association for the third straight year.

The 5’8 guard scored 939 points this season for the seventh-most in one season in girls state history and her 2,426 points rank her 18th among the state’s all-time scorers.

Her point total this year is the sixth most by a senior in state history and she’s 28th among all-time rebounders with 1,079. She is the 13th girls player to score more than 2,000 points and grab more than 1,000 rebounds in a career.

“She set the tone for our program for four years,” coach Milton Ruffin said. “It’s a very special day for her and for me since she’s my first player to sign a college scholarship. Her teammates are here to share it with her and I wanted them to see an example of hard work paying off.”

O’Neal, who is on the Seahawks track team this spring, will continue working out until she reports for summer school in early July. She will major in Business.

“It’s a much faster game there and the players are much stronger,” O’Neal said. “I’ll keep working toward my goal of being the best freshman out there.”

But not before she has a piece or two of birthday cake.