By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Staff
Leilaya McMillan, a senior member of the Cherokee Lady Braves basketball team, will continue her basketball career at East Central Community College in Decatur, Miss. She signed a letter of intent during an event held in the Charles George Memorial Arena on the morning of Wednesday, March 30.
“I’m excited just to be able to play at the next level,” McMillan told the One Feather. “It’s really exciting to go on and play college ball.”
McMillan, a member of the Mississppi Band of Choctaw Indians, plans to study pre-Med and transfer to a four-year university after two years. “I’m looking forward to just improve my game and to just help out and do what I can to help the team and help them win.”
McMillan, a two-time All-Smoky Mountain Conference selection, averaged 18.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 3.2 steals for her career as a Lady Brave. She shot 74.6 percent from the free throw line, 29 percent from three-point land, and 39 percent from the floor.
During Wednesday’s event, McMillan addressed the crowd, “I want to thank my family and friends here and back home in Mississippi for always giving me the love and encouragement. I want to thank my teammates for always staying committed to the Lady Braves basketball program. It helped me grow into the player I am today. I want to thank the coaches and trainers who took care of me and guided me to be prepared mentally and physically as a student-athlete.”
She added, “Thank you to Cherokee High School, Cherokee Athletics, Cherokee School Board, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.”
Her father, Barry McMillan, told the One Feather, “It’s exciting. The first one (Jason McMillan) was our first run at it and we were happy to see the hard work that he put in to go on to Western. Now, my only daughter that we have is going on to play collegiate ball herself. It’s just a momentous occasion for the McMillan family. We’re very grateful and thankful to everyone that has helped along the way, that has supported us along the way, and has been there for Leilaya these past two years at Cherokee High School.”
CHS Assistant Principal Craig Barker said during the event, ““I would like to congratulate Leilaya and her family on her signing today at East Central to continue her education. We are so very proud of her and the accomplishments she’s made here at Cherokee High School. She’s family to us. This is always her home. We appreciate you and all you’ve done and how you’ve represented our school, our tribe, and your tribe.”
Ann Gardner, Lady Braves head basketball coach, commented during the event, ““It’s such a special thing to have an athlete be able to go to the next level and play. I know this has been a goal of hers and we’ve had many conversations about that. I’m just excited for her future in the whole basketball world as well as her future beyond basketball. I know she’s got big dreams and big aspirations and there’s no doubt that she will succeed in whatever she does.”
She went on to say, “You’ve been an integral part to our program and you’ll be missed next year.”
The East Central Community College Lady Warriors play in Region 23 of the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) and are members of the MACCC (Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference).