The last few seasons for GMC Prep girls basketball have been some of the best in program history, and one of the reasons for that success signed Thursday to continue her athletic and academic career in college.
DeAndria Stephens will take her game one state over to the Southern Union State Community College women’s hoops team in Alabama where she will look to further hone her skills and later earn an offer to a four-year school. For now though, Stephens is just excited to have an avenue that allows her to continue playing the game she’s loved for as long as she can remember.
“It means a lot to me,” she said after signing her letter of intent. “I’ve been playing ever since I was able to shoot a basketball, so it feels good to be able to keep going with my passion.”
For her high school head coach Shawn Dennis, Stephens is the first signee he’s sending on to the next level after eight years at the helm of GMC Prep girls basketball.
“This is a proud moment,” Dennis said. “I know she’s worked really hard for this her whole life through all the ups, downs and struggles on and off the court.”
That’s not the only first Stephens was able to accomplish in her time as a Lady Dog. On Jan. 27 against Hancock Central, she became Dennis’ first player to reach 1,000 career varsity points. Also, her play helped GMC Prep girls basketball earn one of its few region championships in program history this past season, and the team even reached back-to-back Elite Eights for the first time ever in 2020 and ’21. She’s been recognized multiple times as an All-Region and Union-Recorder All-County honoree for leading her team through this successful stretch.
A Sparta native and still resident, Stephens came over to GMC Prep from Hancock County as a freshman. Coach Dennis got his first look at his future star player during a middle school tournament hosted by GMC her eighth-grade year. Her family had already expressed a desire to transfer, so the head coach obviously watched her play with great interest.
“We knew she was going to special,” Dennis said. “She was just dominant. She could take over a game, but she wasn’t a selfish player. She was always looking to get her teammates involved, which raised the whole team to another level.”
That carried over to her years as a Lady Dog as well. The team’s record Stephens’ sophomore through senior years was a combined 57-11 with two region runner-up finishes to go along with the 2021 region title. She averaged more than 13 points and eight rebounds per game all three of those years while showing her ability to handle the ball, create shots, make the open looks, find her teammates, and rebound the basketball. That’s pretty much every skill one needs to be successful out on the court.
Stephens will take all that talent to the two-year women’s program at Southern Union, which is where she went on her first-ever college visit.
“It fits me well,” the Southern Union signee said. “It’s like family there. The campus is amazing, and the coach loves me like I’ve already been playing for him for years. I feel like I can bring a lot to the team next season.”
Stephens shared that she plans on majoring in nursing once she starts college in the fall.