Full house at Mississippi State
Blair Schaefer grew up watching national signing day ceremonies.
Her father, Vic Schaefer, a veteran college basketball coach, has helped convince scores of girls to sign with a number of schools. And the young Blair watched intently, dreaming of the day she would make her own announcement.
Last week, it finally happened. The 5-foot-7 combo guard at Starkville (Miss.) signed with Mississippi State, where her father has been the head coach since March 2012.
"It was greater than anything I had ever anticipated," Blair said of the ceremony. "It went far beyond."
The event was held at the Starkville High library, and Mom (Holly, a former college basketball player at Arkansas State) and Dad were joined by Blair's grandmother and great-aunt, who made the four-hour drive from their home in Arkansas.
Four Mississippi television stations -- from Starkville, Jackson, Tupelo and West Point -- were there to cover the signing, and there were balloons, a cake and signs that read "Future Lady Bulldog" and "We Love You, Blair!"
Coach Schaefer, of course, thinks Bulldogs fans will love all five recruits he signed last week. The class is ranked 20th in the most recent rankings.
• Victoria Vivians, a 6-1 forward for Scott Central (Forest, Miss.), ranked second in the nation with a 39.7 scoring average as a junior for a 33-4 team. She is the state's reigning Miss Basketball and was the 2012 Gatorade Player of the Year in Mississippi as a sophomore. She is also the Bulldogs' highest-rated recruit, No. 24 in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100.
"My first order of business [after getting the Bulldogs job] was to call Chad Harrison," Vic Schaefer said of the Scott Central coach. "We talked as I was rolling down the runway [at the airport], and we talked until I lost him in the clouds."
Vivians, who wants to be a coach when she is done playing, is on pace to set national career scoring records. She entered her senior season with 4,138 points, and the national record is 5,424, held by Adrian McGowen of Goodrich (Texas) from 2003 to 2006.
"Scoring is important, but not as important as my team," Vivians said. "I'd rather win championships than get scoring titles."
• LaKaris Salter, a 6-1 forward for Florida A&M Developmental Research School (Tallahassee, Fla.), averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds per game for a 25-4 team. She already is a two-time Florida player of the year in Class 2A and, at No. 89, is the other Bulldogs recruit ranked in the top 100.
She has led her school to two straight state titles. In the state final as a sophomore, she dribbled 50 feet before hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to defeat Hollywood Christian 55-53.
Salter wants to major in business administration with a minor in prelaw or sports management.
• Kayla Nevitt, a 5-10 shooting guard from Dekaney (Houston), averaged 11.1 points on a 34-4 team. One night after she signed, she broke a single-game school record with seven 3-pointers and set her career high with 29 points.
Blair Schaefer and Nevitt played together in the seventh and eighth grades on the Texas Elite club team, and Vic Schaefer made himself a promise way back then.
"I said that if I'm still in the business by the time she's a senior, I'm going to recruit [Nevitt]," he said.
Nevitt said she wants to study kinesiology and hopes to become a physical therapist after her playing days are over.
• Blair Schaefer averaged 22.8 points and 4.6 assists last season for a 15-9 Starkville team. She also shot 87.7 percent from the foul line and was named second-team all-state.
Vic Schaefer said his daughter is an excellent shooter with great court vision.
"She's not blessed with lightning quickness," he said, "but she is quick in her mind and is a great help defender with the ability to rotate and take a charge."
Blair has a 4.0 GPA and wants to study marine biology so she can "swim, stay tan and work with underwater animals."
• Morgan William, a 5-5 point guard for Shades Valley (Birmingham, Ala.), averaged 14.1 points, 4.1 assists and 4.8 steals on a 31-2 team.
William may be the most exciting recruit in the class, even though she admits her true height is closer to 5-3. She shot 53 percent from the floor last season because she often turns her voluminous steals into layups.
"She plays like a 5-9 player because she has really long arms," Shades Valley coach Tonya Hunter said. "Her quickness is unbelievable. A lot of our football coaches say she would be the best defensive back in school if she tried out."
Hunter said William is No. 3 on the Alabama career steals list, and her reputation precedes her in games.
"I hear a lot of coaches yell things about me," said William, who wants to study sports marketing. "They say, 'Pass the ball before she gets there.'"
Blair Schaefer played against William over the summer on the AAU circuit and came away impressed, wanting to know, "Who's that?"
If Vic Schaefer has his way, college basketball fans will know all about William and the entire Bulldogs' 2014 class very quickly.