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COLLEGE SIGNINGS: Saxton signs with South Carolina

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At every level of playing basketball, Victaria Saxton has made her mark.

The one she made Monday on a letter of intent represents the culmination of the lessons and influences she’s taken in through her journey. And she’ll continue that journey next season as a University of South Carolina Gamecock.

Saxton, a 6-foot-1, five-star recruit, officially made her collegiate choice Monday as she signed with the reigning national championship program at a ceremony attended by her family, friends and coaches.

The occasion comes just days before the start of her senior season, the final one in an outstanding career with the Lady Blue Devils.

Saxton said getting to play for South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley was part of the allure of choosing the Gamecocks, but it was also the impact of the recent unexpected death of her longtime AAU coach, Kirk Pointer, that nudged her to go ahead and sign.

“I love Dawn Staley, and after the passing of my AAU coach it meant a lot to make that decision,” she said. “And I thought about how if I wanted to play after college I know (Staley) could get me there.”

A difference-maker on the court from an early age, Saxton has grown into one of the top forwards in the Class of 2018 and is ranked No. 8 in the nation. She led Model in points (25), rebounds (13.7), blocks (4.5) and steals (3.2) per game last season as the Lady Devils made it to the Class AA state semifinals.

Her dominating nature was on full display in the quarterfinals when she recorded a triple-double in a 62-45 win over Bryan County. Saxton finished with 29 points, 25 rebounds and 14 blocks.

Model head coach Sally Echols said Saxton — affectionately known as simply V — doesn’t try to take over a game or show out for the sake of her own ego.

“The thing with V is she’s never stepped on the floor with a personal agenda. If you watch her play for our team, if you watch her play AAU, it’s not about her,” Echols said. “She’s excellent about doing what’s best for her team. And she does that better than any player that I’ve seen.”

Staley is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and has turned South Carolina into a nationally elite program over the last decade, winning the SEC tournament title the last three seasons and taking the national title this past season.

“I’m excited about hopefully another national championship,” she said. “But I’m also excited because I know the type of person Dawn Staley is and how big she is to the world.”

Echols is looking forward to having Saxton for one more season, but she knows that her future is in good hands.

“It’s a big decision and she had a lot of opportunities placed before her,” Echols said. “So I think with a lot of prayer and preparation she made the decision that she felt like fit her best. And South Carolina’s a pretty sweet place to be.”

The Lady Devils open the season Friday with a 4:30 p.m. contest against Lovett in Shannon.