04/28/04 — Bryant signs with Louisburg

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Bryant signs with Louisburg

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 28, 2004 2:06 PM

The messages flooded Gladys McClary's voice mail.

The best she could do, especially during basketball season, was to write each name and number down. The veteran Goldsboro High coach knew she'd eventually return those calls.

But just one call and recruiting visit mattered to Clintoria Bryant.

Totally unaware of her coach's collegiate background, Bryant walked into McClary's office and declared Louisburg Junior College as her destination. McClary couldn't believe what she was hearing.

"I didn't want it to come to that until I was sure that Clintoria was leaning in that direction," said McClary, who played on the 1982 Hurricanes squad that finished national runner-up. "I just tried to share some of my experiences from Louisburg with her, and they were all positive.

"I am very confident that Louisburg College will take care of her."

The short talk solidified Bryant's decision.

A modest teen-ager in the classroom but a flashy point guard on the court, Bryant signed a national letter-of-intent Monday to play for the Hurricanes next season. She is the second player during McClary's tenure to continue her career on the collegiate level.

McClary's youngest daughter, Brenda, currently plays at Norfolk State (Va.) University.

"When I went on my visit, the people were nice to me and I liked the small campus," said Bryant, the daughter of Faye Henry. "The girls on the team all talked good about being there -- nobody had anything bad to say.

"Plus, I didn't want to go to a losing team."

Bryant joins a program that's a fixture on the national scene. The Hurricanes captured the school's first-ever National Junior College Athletic Association title in 1981 with coach Paul Sanderford.

Current Louisburg coach Mike Holloman, a native of Wilson, drew a wealth of knowledge from Sanderford and continued the winning tradition when he took over the program in 1988-89. Since then, Louisburg's basketball program has been comparable to a Who's Who on the junior college level.

Holloman has produced numerous Region X champions and he finally earned an NJCAA crown of his own in 1992. Since then, four of his teams have advanced to the elite eight.

Of course, Bryant has some impressive credentials of her own.

The 5-foot-8 guard is a two-time all-Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference selection, a recipient of the News-Argus Player of the Year award this season and a member of the 2003-04 Associated Press All-State team.

Bryant helped lead the Goldsboro High program to an astounding 92 wins in four campaigns, including a 54-7 mark the past two seasons. The Cougars made back-to-back trips to the eastern regionals for the first time in nearly two decades and came within a basket of playing for the state championship this March.

Bryant averaged double figures in her junior and senior seasons, but improved as an all-around player as a senior. Not only did her leadership qualities improve, she played an unselfish brand of basketball by getting her teammates involved in the game from the opening tip.

The soft-spoken, but energetic guard certainly feels she can fit into the Hurricanes' system. Holloman has no doubt Bryant will bring electricity, enthusiasm and confidence to the court.

"We need to strengthen the guard position, and she will definitely do that," Holloman said. "She can play the numbers one and two positions. She can shoot the ball well, and she definitely has the ability to score.

"She is also a very confident player who has a good feel for the game. I see her fitting right in for us."

Louisburg loses just two players off this year's team, which finished 20-5.