Picture this: A little kindergartener attempting to shoot some hoops at the YMCA, without a care in the world. Now picture that same little girl as a junior in high school, committed to West Texas A&M as a basketball recruit.
This girl is Aniah Wayne, a junior on the varsity basketball team. She’s been playing volleyball and basketball since her early childhood, but later on found herself gravitating toward the latter.
“As high school started going, I realized what sport I liked more, and how I wanted to focus on that, and it was basketball,” Wayne said.
She really began her recruitment process toward the end of her freshman year of high school after the first basketball season.
“Just knowing where I stand on the team and everything, and after that I started focusing more on the college aspects and getting my name out there,” Wayne said in regards to her recruiting time line.
She started emailing coaches and following them on social media to allow them to recognize her as a potential student athlete.
Wayne utilized NCSA, Next College Student Athlete, to help her find the right college fit and get in touch with coaches.
“With NCSA, I just started emailing coaches from areas I wanted to look for schools in. Colorado was one of them, Texas was one…I searched up different colleges,” Wayne said.
She also used Niche.com to research the quality of different colleges regarding location, acceptance rate, test scores, etc.
Her direct communication with West Texas A&M began during the summer of 2020. The June before going into junior year is when players can start personally talking to coaches, so that is when Wayne started talking to West Texas.
“They got an interest in me and it just went from there: talking on the phone, planning visits, and talking with the assistant coaches too,” Wayne said.
She visited the campus at the end of June and planned another for the fall of 2020, but that visit was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Regardless, the one visit helped her narrow her decision on where to go to college.
“Before that it was really just phone calls every week or so, but when we decided to go down there it clicked for me that that was where I wanted to go,” Wayne said.
She appreciates how West Texas is family based, as well as how they prepare athletes for their future.
Wayne was also considering Northwest Missouri State and Central Missouri over the summer, but after her visit, she focused solely on West Texas and committed to playing there in August of 2020.
Throughout this decision process, Wayne was also contemplating potential majors and study options.
“During basketball recruitment I was also thinking of career options. I want to go through health, like physical therapy and sports medicine,” Wayne said.
She is truly grateful to her parents, who both supported her throughout the recruitment process and aided her along the way.
“They really helped me know what to say in certain emails and how to confront coaches on the phone, so they really helped me with the communication part and just understanding how important college is,” Wayne explained, “They were there the whole way.”