Warren star will play for Arizona
By Matt Middleton | Staff Writer
Thursday, November 12, 2009

The letter arrived from across the country, about as far away from Warrenton, Ga, as she could imagine, and Candice Warthen didn't react one way or the other.

The more she learned about the University of Arizona, though, the more she could picture herself that far away, doing what she always does: play basketball.

Warthen, surrounded by teammates and family in Warren County's library, made an earlier commitment official on Wednesday afternoon, signing a letter of intent to accept a basketball scholarship to Arizona.

Wednesday was the first day high school athletes in most every sport except football could formally accept scholarships by signing binding letters of intent.

The early signing period ends Nov. 18 and opens again April 14.

Football signing day is Feb. 3, along with field hockey, soccer, track, cross country and water polo, according to NCAA rules.

Warthen, a 5-foot-4 guard, has played on the varsity at Warren County since she was a freshman. She sharpened her game by playing against boys growing up. By the time she got to high school, the athletic edge she enjoyed in middle school remained, even though she was competing against older girls.

"I was doing everything they were doing -- running and jumping," Warthen said.

Former Warren County coach Jamaal Rhodes helped Warthen prepare a highlight tape they distributed to coaches in attendance at a large AAU event Warthen attended. Many schools wrote her, but Arizona phoned more frequently, she said.

"They will get the most out of her," said her mother, Makessa Erwin. "They will make sure she's where she needs to be, doing the right things."

Warthen took an official visit to the school earlier this month, confirming what she already knew: Arizona was comfortable enough.

"People do ask me that all the time -- why all the way out there?" Warthen said. "But as long as I'm comfortable playing there, I'll be fine."

SMITH TO WINTHROP: Burke County power forward Martaveous Smith signed with Winthrop, making official a pledge he made this past summer.

Smith (6-9, 218) is an exceptional shot blocker who has developed an effective shot from 10 feet, Burke County coach Purvis Dukes said.

"They fell in love with his size and his potential; they told him he was their No. 1 recruiting target," Dukes said. "He can run the floor and shoot that (10-foot) jumper."

Smith will join former Glenn Hills standout Reggie Middleton at Winthrop, in Rock Hill, S.C.. He is one of four returning starters for Burke County this season.

GOLFER WOFFORD-BOUND: South Aiken golfer Chandler Brazeal signed with Wofford College. Brazeal is a decorated junior player who was twice an all-state golfer for the Thoroughbreds.

If he makes all-state his senior season, he will become the first golfer in school history to earn that distinction three years in a row.

Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or matt.middleton@augustachronicle.com.

From the Thursday, November 12, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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