After narrowing her list of more than 20 schools down to five Division 1 hopefuls, Woodlands senior Imani Tilford orally committed to Georgia Tech early Tuesday morning, The Journal News confirmed.
Tilford, who averaged more than 25 points per game during her junior campaign, also had Memphis, Providence, Boston College, and national runners-up Louisville on her final list before making the final decision.
”(Georgia Tech) is city-like, and everything is right there,” Tilford said. “When I went for a visit, I really enjoyed it there and I fell in love with it.”
Currently ranked as the No. 21 guard in the nation by ESPN, Tilford said she plans to sign a National Letter of Intent with the Yellow Jackets either before or midway through her senior campaign at Woodlands.
Tilford added that she picked Georgia Tech for the possibilities it can lead to, should a career in basketball fall through.
“I know I’ll have a future afterwards,” she said. “I’ll be able to do something else with my life if basketball fails.”
Woodlands coach Ty Postell hoped Tilford would pick Georgia Tech, but said he wanted her to “make the right decision” when all was said and done.
“I wanted to weigh … what she was getting from the staff, how she vibed with the players, the campus, the academic support,” Postell said. ”(The academics) offered a part in her decision, which I think was a great job on her behalf.”
Postell is also an assistant coach for Tilford’s AAU team, New Jersey Sparks, which featured former Ursuline star and San Diego State-bound Alyssa Lawrence.
The Sparks won two national tournaments — Atlanta SummerJam and the Adidas Nationals — as well as the “Rumble in the Bronx” on the local scene.
”(Imani) has faced every top 20-guard in the country and held her own,” Postell said. “One thing she’s always had is an endless engine … that natural-born determination.”
Georgia Tech has already put together one of the best recruiting classes for the foreseeable future after inking No. 2 recruit in the nation Kaela Davis out of the 2013 class. With the commitments of Tilford, 6-foot-1 power forward Zaire O’Neal of Shabazz and 6-foot-4 center Erin Garner of Trenton Catholic in New Jersey for their 2014 recruitment, the Yellow Jackets still may get another big commit from 6-foot-2 wing Myisha Hines-Allen, the No. 24 recruit in the country and current New Jersey Spark.
”(Imani) wanted to create an era instead of just jumping onto one,” Postell said.
Before she dons the black and yellow, Tilford will first have to finish up her career at Woodlands. As a junior, Tilford was among the top 65 scorers in the country at 25.3 PPG, and reached her 1,000th career point milestone.
“We don’t look too bad; I feel like we can make it to the (Westchester) County Center,” Tilford said. “The goal is to win a gold ball, but the County Center would be a nice consolation prize.”
Woodlands is expected to carry four seniors, four juniors, two sophomores and two seventh graders, according to coach Ty Postell, who added that the Falcons will be playing in three or four showcase tournaments this year.
“I think we’ll be okay. I have some young ones coming in that can play immediately on varsity that I’ve been working with this summer,” Postell said. “The future looks very bright for Woodlands basketball.”
For those of you who have never seen Tilford play, check out this ridiculous clip of her making two defenders fall down before dishing a pass to a teammate for the layup.
Feature photo credit: New Jersey Sparks
Action photo credit: Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News