By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information
ATLANTA – Yaktavia "Shug" Hickson, who recently exhausted her eligibility at Tennessee Tech as a four-year member of the women's basketball team, will continue her basketball career past college.
Hickson has signed with the Women's Blue Chip Basketball League's Atlanta Monarchs, one of the league's newest member teams. The WBCBL was founded in November 2004 as a premier professional development basketball league for women and features postgraduate players from various levels of NCAA, NAIA and junior college competition, as well as former WNBA, National Women's Basketball League, International Basketball Federation and other international professional players.
The WBCBL has various networking relationships with international basketball scouts and agents, giving its players the possibility of higher-level professional job offers.
Hickson will return to her hometown of Atlanta to play for the league's Monarchs. During high school at Columbia in DeKalb County, she was part of two back-to-back Georgia Class AAAA state championship teams in 2012 and 2013.
Her final season at Tech ended in February, and she left the program as its 18th all-time leading scorer, totaling 1,256 points in her career along with 410 rebounds.
At Atlanta, Hickson will be united with longtime Tennessee Tech coach Marynell Meadors, who was named the Monarchs' head coach upon the team's formation in December.
Meadors joins yet another program she's built from the ground up, having coached at Tech from the Golden Eagles' first season in 1970-71 to 1985-86. During her Tech tenure, she won four regular-season Ohio Valley Conference championships and an OVC Tournament title, was named OVC Coach of the Year twice and reached national tournaments (AIAW, WNIT or NCAA) 13 times in 15 years. She departed Cookeville with a 363-139 record to become the first NCAA Division I head coach with 300 wins at one program. Meadors has also since been selected to the Ohio Valley Conference and Tennessee Tech sports halls of fame, among others.
Although she's new to the WBCBL, Meadors is no stranger to Atlanta. She coached the WNBA's Atlanta Dream from its inception in 2007 to 2012, winning WNBA Coach of the Year in 2009.
Meadors understands the significance of having Hickson on her team, having cultivated a strong connection to Tennessee Tech even after her days in Cookeville.
"I have such a fondness of Tennessee Tech in my years that I coached there. To have another Golden Eagle on your team, it just kind of makes you feel closer to her and try to help her be successful in what she's trying to accomplish," Meadors said.
"Tennessee Tech was just an amazing school. I just cherish all the memories and the moments that I spent at that university and in the city. The fans were absolutely outstanding, and I don't think they're like that anywhere else."
She was also extremely complimentary of new signee Hickson.
"The number one thing is I love her energy," Meadors said. "She has tremendous energy, and she has tremendous enthusiasm as a teammate. She was cheering on people that she didn't even know at tryouts. To me, that tells me she's a great team member.
"She's got a lot of growing to do, which most rookies do in professional basketball. I really think she's going to be a really good player and have the opportunity to play in Europe if she wants to. Just watching the different types of moves that she had, you can tell that Coach Kim (Rosamond) has definitely done a great job in teaching her a lot of skills. To me, that tells a lot about what she has done at Tennessee Tech and her growth that she's had since Coach Kim's been there. I'm really looking forward to it – to make a professional team as a rookie, that's a major accomplishment."
"This is a tremendous opportunity for Shug and one that is well-deserved," added Tech head coach Kim Rosamond. "She has worked really hard to grow and expand her game, and it's exciting to know she will be mentored and coached at the next level by one of women's basketball's most successful coaches in Coach Meadors. It will be special to watch these two outstanding Golden Eagles team up."
The Monarchs begin their inaugural season on May 5, playing the Georgia Stampede in Atlanta.