Central's Harton signs with Alcorn State


TUSCALOOSA | Kiara Harton’s skills on the basketball court made her a college prospect, but the Central High School senior had to overcome some personal hardships to achieve her dream.

The 6-foot Harton signed on Monday with Alcorn State, a Mississippi school that competes in the NCAA’s Division I in women’s basketball. Harton expressed her appreciation to a support group that includes family members, coaches, school personnel and teammates.

"It’s a big milestone," said Harton, who received honorable mention on the Class 5A All-State team. "A lot of people don’t get this opportunity to go on to college on a full scholarship. I’m blessed to see this day.

"When I was younger, I always used to say, ‘I’m going to go to college. I’m going to play ball.’ Actually, this is a dream come true. I thank God for it. A lot of people don’t know my story. My father is locked up. My mother is on drugs. I just want to motivate people. Don’t give up. Whatever’s around you, let it be motivation. That’s what motivates me — my family. I want to be somebody. I plan to go to Alcorn State and do big things and be successful."

Harton said a three-day visit convinced her Alcorn State was the right choice.

"I just fell in love with the campus," she said. "I’m going to major in criminal justice, so I went down there and spoke with a couple of people. They are a helping college, so I feel like the miles (away from home) are not a problem. I will be all right."

Harton, who filled every position from point guard to post player, averaged 16.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists and had 63 blocks and 51 steals. Central (20-9) won the Area 6 title and was the runner-up in the Central Regional. Harton was on the All-Tournament team in Montgomery. She said the Alcorn State coaches want to give her a shot at guard.

"They talked about me playing some combo guard," Harton said. "Wherever they put me, I’m going to play my hardest. I’m going to do my job to the best of my ability."

When Harton attended Westlawn Middle School, Michael Rivers coached her for three seasons. The two were reunited at Central after Rivers replaced Jim Holland as head coach.

Rivers said Harton was tall enough to be an inside force and athletic enough to handle the ball or shoot 3-pointers.

"I knew the potential and the athletic ability that she had," Rivers said. "It was always in her, even in middle school. When I came over to the high school and took the job, the one thing I wanted to make sure of was that I would have Kiara. We knew that if we did what he had to do from our end of it as the coaches that she would take care of her end on the court. She was willing to do whatever we asked.

"Kiara had several offers from different schools, but Alcorn came in and won her heart. We participated in that process, and we also told her that wherever she wants to go that it’s our job to facilitate it. I’m thankful to have a principal (Clarence Sutton Jr.) that told me off the top, ‘You’re not just here to coach basketball. At the end of the year, I want to see someone headed to college or showing that you made the contacts to get them in college.’ We met that goal at the end of the year, and I’m very proud of her."

 

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.