By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – While many students are looking forward to a quiet summer, graduating senior Suzzette Suggs has a different schedule. The 5’11” all-around athlete graduated from Coffeeville High School last week and started training to compete in a national basketball tournament in Hawaii.
On June 22 she will board a plane in Memphis, joining a handful of basketball players scattered across the state – Ripley, Jackson, Booneville – bound for Honolulu, Hawaii, to compete in the 11th annual 2010 King Kamehameha Basketball Classic. In this event, top high school athletes from each state compete in the two-day tournament to see who is the best.
Suzzette is one of 200 athletes from across the country who was selected to attend this event, which is sponsored by Elite Sports. Her team will represent Mississippi and is coached by Northeast Mississippi Community College veteran basketball coach Ricky Ford.
This is the 10th year Ford has fielded a team of Mississippi juniors and seniors to compete in the tournament.
“I was shocked,” Suzzette reported when she learned that Ford had hand-picked her to join this year’s team. For the last two years she has participated in a basketball camp coordinated by Ford at Northeast Mississippi Community College.
“A large percentage of the players that have participated in this tournament have gone on to play at the college level,” Ford said about the team members.
“I am going to represent Yalobusha County and I feel like I am going to be a big factor,” Suzzette added. She is also thankful for the opportunity.
Her confidence comes after hard work, making athletic success a familiar story. She won a state title on May 14, competing in the Region 1A 400 meter dash. Suzzette also placed second in the state in the high jump in Region 1A.
She was selected Most Valuable Player in basketball and track at Coffeeville. She averaged 15.5 points and 12 rebounds each game on the court during her senior year – all while making the grade in the class room. She graduates after maintaining a spot on the A B Honor roll.
Players will arrive in Hawaii in the afternoon on June 22. The following three days, Suzzette and other competitors will enjoy sightseeing, enjoying authentic Hawaiian entertainment, and a beach front fireworks show.
The basketball action starts Friday, June 26, as each team will play two games during the opening round of the King Kamehameha Basketball Classic. On Saturday each team will be seeded and placed in the Championship Medal Round that morning. The finals will be at 4 p.m. that afternoon, and the awards ceremony will follow.
On Monday, the players enjoy another day of leisure before flying home late that afternoon.
A Look At The Future
After an awesome trip to Hawaii, Suzzette will focus her attention on August when she will start classes at Delta State University. She has received a partial scholarship to play basketball at Delta State.
“I want to finish college and enter the draft,” the upbeat teen reports, referring to competition at the next level, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WMBA) draft.
Suzzette is the daughter of George and Margaret Suggs of Oakland.