CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- It was an emotional moment for Cambridge guard Donnaizha Fountain as she sat at the middle of the basketball court at the Frisoli Youth Center, surrounded by family and friends, ready to sign a National Letter of Intent with Georgia Tech.
After a few smiles for the cameras, Fountain signed the dotted line and then broke out into tears as she embraced her mother, Donniece Watson, squeezing tightly -- and for a minute, we weren't sure if either party was going to let go.
It's been a whirlwind offseason for the 5-foot-10 Fountain, who averaged 17.2 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and three assists for the Falcons. This past Aug. 9, her 17th birthday, she gave a verbal commitment to the Yellow Jackets over a slew of high-major Division 1 offers, among them Kentucky, Southern Cal, St. John's, Pitt and Temple.
Fountain spoke to ESPNBoston.com following her signing, and was visibly ecstatic about the whole thing.
On signing: "Signing was just overwhelming, it was tears of joy. Everyone I loved standing before me, smiling with tears in their eyes to watch me on a special day. It was just emotional. Just knowing that this is the day I’ve been waiting for, the day I’ve been dreaming about, and it’s finally here.
"It felt like a sigh of relief. I’ve been waiting on this since I was 13. You don’t just dream about something like this, and then have it come true. But my dream happened right there [points to center court] before my own eyes. Just, it was amazing. It was the most wonderful feeling I’ve ever had in my life."
On Georgia Tech: "I chose Georgia Tech because of the connection with the coach [assistant coach Sam Purcell]. Any time I would talk to a coach, I just didn’t feel the connection, you know? I was bored on the phone, or I wasn’t feeling it. Georgia Tech, it just kind of came. [Purcell] just took me away when we were on the phone."
Where the attention began: "It started when I played with the Boston Showstoppers [AAU program], and it started when I was 11 years old. It was basically a community friend, and he built the team around me and his two nieces, and from there I just blew up. I had to switch teams, because I kinda outgrew the program, so I went to a New York team [the Albany City Rocks]. It basically all started from the Boston Showstoppers."
What about her appealed to the college coaches: "When I went on my official visit, I asked the head coach, MaChelle Joseph, what made her choose me. She told me it was basically one game [in AAU] against the star player, Diamond DeShields [North Carolina commit from Norcross, Ga.]. She was the No. 2 player in the country, and I shut her down. She was averaging 40 points a game, and she only had 10 against me. It was my last game of AAU, down in New Orleans. Also, how much heart I have. It’s my energy on the court, my defense, and I’m not afraid of anything."
On the origin of her nickname, ‘Ra Ra’: "It actually came from a 2Pac song [“Me Against the World”]. I guess before I was born, my cousin Jamal thought of it, at the end of the song he says ‘For the youngest thug of all, my little gangsta Ra Ra’. He loved the name. And plus, my middle name is Rashae."