King, Byrd, Black sign pacts

Published 6:00 am Friday, November 16, 2007

Nikki Byrd said she is looking forward to the LSU-Ole Miss gameand she’s not talking about football. Byrd signed a basketballscholarship with Ole Miss Wednesday and teammate Swayze Blacksigned with LSU, setting the stage for a head-to-head SoutheasternConference encounter next season.

Besides Byrd and Black, Brookhaven had another scholarshipsignee on the NCAA’s first day of the early signing period.Southpaw pitched Paxton King signed with Southern Miss.

In neighboring Wesson, Perry Katherine Furr signed a golfscholarship yesterday with Mississippi State. Furr is Wesson’sfirst female athlete to sign a Division I scholarship.

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Black and Byrd, recognized as the Twin Towers, standing 6-foot-2and 6-3 respectively, were heavily recruited by a number of SECschools and Southern Miss. The All-State selections wereinstrumental in leading Ole Brook’s Lady Panthers to the Class 4Astate championship game last season.

“It will be a game when we play LSU,” predicted Byrd, grinning atBlack. “I’m looking forward to it.

“I’m ready to go to Ole Miss right now,” said Byrd. “Ole Miss feltright for me when I visited the campus.” She plans to major incomputer engineering.

Byrd will play for new head coach Renee Ladner who replaced CarolRoss after last season. Ladner had been on Ross’ staff at Ole Missand Florida.

“Coach Ladner is crazy,” said Byrd. “I like her personality. She’sdown to earth.”

As a junior at BHS, Byrd averaged 16.8 points and 9.2 rebounds lastseason, helping lead Coach Freda Craft’s team to a 32-6 record.

Byrd and Black were chosen Co-Most Valuable Players on The DAILYLEADER’s All-Lincoln County Basketball Team.

Black has shown versatility, playing the post and the guardpositions. She averaged 13.2 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blockedshots per game.

“I’ve always liked LSU,” Black admitted. “I know Coach Chancellorwill be tough. He’s a good coach.”

Black said she planned to major in business at LSU. The Lady Tigerswere 30-8 last season, falling to Rutgers in the Final Four.

Craft said Byrd and Black were valuable members of her squad. “Ibelieve they both have an outstanding future ahead of them. I thinkthey will make us proud and Brookhaven proud, too. They certainlywill be missed next year.”

King has been a starter since his freshman year at BHS. As ajunior, he fashioned a 7-4 record. He struck out 90 batters in 62.3innings and walked 23, compiling a 1.01 ERA.

He was selected Mr. Baseball on The DAILY LEADER’s All-LincolnCounty Baseball Team. He posted a .320 batting average, collecting18 RBI and 9 doubles for Coach Randy Spring’s Panthers who finished20-13.

“I’m excited about signing with Southern Miss,” said King. “I’vealways dreamed of playing Division I baseball.

“I’m coming in at a good time because they are losing some pitchersafter this season,” he pointed out. “I hope to get some playingtime as a freshman.”

King said he plans to major in business at USM.

The Golden Eagles, coached by Corky Palmer, have been annualparticipants in the NCAA playoffs the last six years.

Coach Spring said King’s pitching accuracy is exceptional and hehas a strong work ethic. “Paxton has worked extremely hard to besuccessful. He has developed and gotten better every day. Hedeserves credit because of his work habits.”

Spring said King is his first Division I signee coming straight outof high school.