The T-shirt said it all.
West Lowndes 2020 graduate Marvaysha Seals, a star on the Panthers’ girls basketball team, is typically quiet off the court. She’d even kept private her choice of college, knowing for more than two months where she wanted to continue her basketball career but waiting for the right moment to announce it.
That was Thursday morning, when Seals strode into the West Lowndes gym wearing a dark blue T-shirt with a stately white “W” imprinted on it. As she picked a chair at a table featuring her home and away jerseys, a basketball and — once coach Takeea Bozeman fetched it from her office — this year’s district championship trophy, Seals didn’t have to say a word.
She’d chosen to play for the Mississippi University for Women, picking the Owls over Mississippi State and East Mississippi, Itawamba and Northwest Mississippi community colleges.
“Me going off to another level and starting my new journey means so much to me,” Seals said.
The 5-foot-5 combo guard averaged 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and even 3.1 steals per game this season as the Panthers took an undefeated record into the MHSAA Class 1A semifinals. There, West Lowndes lost to eventual champion Pine Grove at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, but that didn’t take away from the special season the Panthers had.
“It was absolutely amazing,” Seals said.
The standout campaign was a marked improvement from an 11-20 record in Seals’ freshman year and roughly .500 marks the next two seasons. Bozeman, who coached Seals and her fellow seniors since that freshman year, said she got to watch Seals grow while maturing as a coach herself.
“It was a learning opportunity for (us) both at the beginning,” Bozeman said. “We started trusting each other more. We became family.”
As Seals gained experience, she began receiving interest from colleges. But of her options, The W appealed to her because of a close relationship with head coach Drew Johnson and the school’s excellent nursing program.
Bozeman said she’s happy her former star will still be around so the two can stay as close as they’ve been for the past four years.
“I’m grateful that she’s going to be in the area so I can still catch some games and be kind of a mentor to her as she travels through college,” Bozeman said.
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.
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