Lady Warrior gets full ride

Published 9:38 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nansemond River senior Briana McClain has accepted a full scholarship to attend and play basketball at Virginia University of Lynchburg. McClain signed her National Letter of Intent with her parents James A. McClain and Lashanda McClain and NR head coach Calvin Mason Sr. at the school on Tuesday.

McClain heading to Virginia University of Lynchburg

Lady Warrior head coach Calvin Mason Sr. demands commitment and hard work from all of his players just to be on his team.

So when Mason says one of his departing seniors, Briana McClain, worked exceptionally hard every day, in season or during the offseason, it’s far more than a usual compliment.

“It’s been my pleasure to coach Briana. I’ve been coaching 34 years and she’s worked as hard as any player I’ve had in those 34 years, girls or boys,” Mason said.

Nansemond River senior Briana McClain will continue her basketball career at Virginia University of Lynchburg next school year as she’s accepted a full scholarship. McClain played three varsity seasons for the Lady Warriors, helping this past year’s team reach the Eastern Region quarterfinals for the first time in program history.

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McClain’s work, actually since eighth grade and the Nansemond River JV team with Mason, then for the last three years at the varsity level, helped lead the 2010-11 Lady Warriors to the quarterfinals of the Eastern Region Tournament for the first time in program history.

Now all the work will pay dividends beyond Nansemond River as McClain’s accepted a full scholarship from Virginia University of Lynchburg.

“Coach Mason really evolved me, from the eighth grade when I was probably the worst player on the team and he took me from that,” McClain said.

McClain, a 5-foot-6 guard, averaged 9.2 points per game, 2.2 steals per game and made 27 three-pointers last season as the Lady Warriors went 19-7 overall and reached the final of the Southeastern District Tournament, another first for Nansemond River girls hoops.

“I enjoy the atmosphere. It’s an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) and they offered me a full ride. That’s the most important thing,” McClain said of her new school and team.

“It’s a Christian school and it’s family oriented,” she said.

Virginia University of Lynchburg recently restarted its entire athletics program. The Dragons are an independent program and play in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. George Hampton is the women’s basketball head coach.

“The main thing coach believes in is academics are first no matter what,” McClain said. “He’ll bring the best out of us in basketball and in class and that’s good. I need someone like that to press me.”

“Briana’s worked day-in, day-out, all the time, to get better,” Mason said. “She knows what she wants to be and she’ll be successful because I know she’ll continue working hard.”

As a Lady Warrior or in AAU circles, McClain’s work ethic plus some outstanding mentors, even aside from coaches, have added up.

Trinese Fox, a former Lady Warrior now playing at South Carolina State, along with King’s Fork standouts TaShauna Rodgers, now at Georgetown, and Ransheda Jennings, now at Chowan, “took me under their wings and taught me a lot,” McClain said.

McClain will study to be a physical therapist.

“I want to live the goal of playing in the WNBA or overseas and I want to be a physical therapist, too. I know basketball won’t be there the rest of my life, but I’ll play until I can’t play anymore,” McClain said.