About a dozen family members and many more students, teachers and coaches came to watch senior Taylor Ayers sign a piece of paper that officially awarded her a scholarship to play basketball at Virginia Tech.
"Pretty much every person close to me is here," Ayers said.
They had good reason for celebration: Ayers became the first player in Laney coach Otis Smart's 26 seasons to sign with an Atlantic Coast Conference school.
Smart said Ayers is the first girls basketball player in the area to sign with an ACC school since 1995, when Hephzibah guard Itoro Umoh signed with Clemson.
Ayers, The Augusta Chronicle's Georgia girls basketball player of the year, averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds this season. She played her first three years at Cross Creek, but most of her memorable moments took place at Laney, which she helped advance to the Class AA state semifinals in March.
"It worked out better than we all had hoped," Ayers said.
Ayers said she will leave for Virginia the second week of July to attend summer school, and a packet detailing an off-season workout program for players should be arriving within days.
Ayers is expecting the workout program to be intense, because she remembers when one arrived for her sister, who is entering her final season at Georgia State, three years ago.
Ayers said her sister's workout program more closely resembled a law textbook than a few sheets of paper hastily stapled together.
Virginia Tech went 12-18 last season. Ayers is part of a five-person recruiting class, and the only member of that group to sign during the spring period.
"We are extremely excited to have Taylor join our program," Virginia Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger said in a release. "She's a fierce rebounder with excellent hands, and we think she'll help us in the paint immediately."
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.