published Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Cleveland High School senior Nora Berry chooses Grambling

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Cleveland High School senior Nora Berry committed this past weekend to continue her basketball career at NCAA Division I member Grambling State University.

Berry, a 5-foot-11 guard/forward, averaged nine points and four rebounds last season for the Lady Raiders, who advanced to the Region 3-AAA quarterfinals. Those are averages that both Berry and Cleveland coach Mindy Kiser expect will improve greatly during her senior year, as graduation and defections have left her as the only senior on the team.

"I'm glad to get that process over with," Berry said Monday afternoon. "This season is going to be very different, and getting this decision over with helps me set my focus on leading our team. I know I'm going to be asked to do a lot, and I'm really wanting to improve on my scoring and rebounding."

Grambling provided a lot of positives for Berry, who chose the Louisiana school over an offer from UNC-Asheville and interest from Radford, North Florida, Savannah State, Western Carolina and Middle Tennessee State. Grambling coach Patricia Cage-Bibbs has more than 500 wins -- the only women's coach at a historically black university to accomplish that.

Assistant Brittanie Taylor-Jones joined the staff after a successful stint of playing overseas, which was a point of emphasis for Berry.

"I'm getting my school paid for and getting a chance to get a degree in college, but I really want to be a game-changer in a program," Berry said. "I wanted to go to a school that had overseas contacts for when I'm done playing in school."

She said she wants to major in forensic psychology and minor in criminal justice.

"They really wanted her. They've been persistent throughout," Kinser said of the Grambling coaches. "They wanted a long, athletic shooter who can play the 3 and the 4.

"Nora's getting away from home and this will be a chance for her to go see who she is. She'll have to be big for us this year, but I think she's matured and grown up a lot as a player and person. I think that'll translate to some good stuff for us."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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