The interest from Division I schools was there for Hillhouse’s Tanayja London. She said three scholarship offers, Manhattan, Bryant and Lafayette, were on the table for her to consider during the summer.
But London and her family preached patience. They waited for other offers to come in. Eventually they got the one they were looking for from Iona.
On Thursday, London made an unofficial visit to the Division I school in New Rochelle, New York, and gave her verbal commitment before leaving the campus.
“I was able to see the campus, see the team and see a ton of the area,” London said. “They have a very young team, hardly any juniors, so I feel I can fit right in. It was a collective decision between me, my parents and the (Hillhosue) coaching staff.”
Iona has some Connecticut connections on its roster. Adrienne DiGioia is a sophomore guard from Branford, Gabrielle Joseph is a freshman forward from Notre Dame-Fairfield and assistant coach Allan Chaney is a former Register All-State selection out of New London (2007-08).
London, 17, is averaging a double-double (17.1 points, 12 rebounds) for the Academics. She becomes the first Division I player from the program since both Bria Holmes (West Virginia) and Colleen Smith (Chicago) in 2012.
“Iona is getting a very versatile player,” Hillhouse coach Catrina Hawley-Stewart said. “She plays guard for me, but she can go into the post, she can handle the ball, she can shoot, she is a strong rebounder and very long defensively. She will be able to overpower smaller guards and be able to defend them well.”
London said Iona didn’t have a scholarship available for her last summer, but once one became available, the school out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference came and saw London at three games this season.
The 5-foot-11 London said she was told she would be used at the guard position.
“I am relieved, thrilled, excited. I don’t think it has fully clicked in yet. I’m very appreciative Iona came to see me and thankful for everyone who helped me and worked with me through this process. I want to go into the (state) playoffs and have a clear mind to focus on getting our team where we need to be.”
London said she will major in mass communications with the goal to become a TV sports reporter. She said had Iona not made a scholarship available, she would have probably taken a post-graduate year at a prep school. She had also considered leaving Hillhouse and reclassifying at a prep school.
“But I didn’t want to do my junior year over. I wanted to finish at Hillhouse,” London said.
London will sign a National Letter of Intent in April.