LaFayette’s Skylar “S.J.” Oxford was already planning to attend Berry College in Rome this fall and stay in a dorm just across the street from the Vikings’ on-campus basketball arena.
But now that basketball arena will serve as Oxford’s home away from home.
The Lady Ramblers’ senior post player will also suit up and play basketball from Berry starting next season after signing a letter of intent in front of a large group of well-wishers this past Friday.
“I’m very blessed and excited because (Berry) is a great school,” she said. “It’s a beautiful school and I was going there anyway. So when I found out about basketball, it just made the whole experience even better.”
Although Oxford spent part of her childhood cheerleading on the sidelines of football games, she went indoors when the weather turned cold and began hitting the hardwood, first playing basketball when she was about four years old.
She explained that she had contacted Berry and sent in her highlight film, which prompted the Lady Vikings to respond with an invitation to join the team.
A Catoosa/Walker County Dream honorable mention selection last season, Oxford is the first Lady Rambler basketball player to sign a college letter of intent under second-year head coach Holly Rhudy.
“I’m very excited, not just for myself and for it being the first player that I’ve ever had sign (to play) college ball, but I think this is a huge step for girls’ basketball at LaFayette,” said Rhudy, the former LaFayette High and Bryan College player. “We ended our season on a positive note last year and now having a college signee just gives us a boost to go into next season. Now these girls will know that they have an opportunity to extend their basketball careers after high school.
“I set my expectations high for S.J. last year. She knew that I didn’t need her just to be an offensive presence, but we needed a defensive presence from her as well. No matter if we were playing zone (defense) or we were in man (defense), I knew that I could depend on her manning the middle of the floor. She really started coming along and getting a few more blocks later in the season.”
Oxford said she also selected Berry because of its student life.
“There’s not too many students there,” she added. “And they’re really big on sports, which I like. I’m going to give it my all - my heart and my hustle.”
“She’s a great kid,” Rhudy added. “I’m excited for her because it’s not just an opportunity for her, but for her family as well. She has very supportive parents, she’s an excellent student in the classroom and I know that Berry thrives on their academics, so I think she will definitely be a plus for their school.”
Oxford plans to major in psychology.