Yelverton signs with USNA
Published 9:18 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Niketa Bailey said it took a while for her and her daughter to see it. People were telling her that her daughter, Aneka Yelverton, could play at the college level.
“It’s been a long journey, but we really started to see for ourselves when she was a freshman that (it) really could happen,” Bailey said.
During a signing ceremony at Nansemond River High School recently, the thing that had once seemed out of reach for Yelverton came true with the swipe of a pen.
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Before a crowd of family, friends, the school’s junior varsity team and all of her teammates on the Lady Warriors varsity squad, she formally signed to play basketball for the U.S. Naval Academy on a full athletic scholarship.
The moment was big for Yelverton, and it illustrated something to her.
“It just shows me that if you work hard, then your hard work will definitely pay off, and you’ll get the results,” she said.
“I was just really proud and just overwhelmed with joy,” her mother said.
Yelverton, a senior, built herself into a star for the Lady Warriors through time spent in the gym each summer during the offseason, something the team’s coach, R. Calvin Mason Sr., routinely praised her for.
Reflecting on his standout guard/forward’s signing, he said, “I think it was a reward for all of the hard work and dedication she put in.”
Yelverton received interest from schools like Furman University, North Carolina Central University, Saint Francis University and Norfolk State University, as well as the Naval Academy.
“I ultimately picked Navy, because not only did I have a better relationship with the coaching staff, but I felt like the long-term benefits were better than going to a traditional university,” she said.
She said the military benefits, the ability to leave school with a guaranteed job and the amount of money she will make as a Naval Academy graduate were all factors in her decision.
Before joining the U.S. Naval Academy team, she will attend the Naval Academy Preparatory School. But when she does join the team in 2017, she expects to be used as a shooting guard.
Mason thinks she will see playing time as a freshman on the Naval Academy’s squad, which competes in the NCAA’s Division I.
“I think her best basketball is really ahead of her,” he said. “I think she’ll get stronger; she’ll fill out some.”
She is enthusiastic, plays hard and shoots well, he said, which “more than anything else, is a great asset to have on any team.”
Yelverton said she wants to major in political science, and then get a law degree with the aim of being a Judge Advocate General lawyer.