Goose Creek High School girls basketball coach Tim Baldwin knew this day was coming since Aniyah Oliver was a freshman.
The longtime leader of the Lady Gators could recognize Oliver had the basketball IQ and work ethic to reach the next level. Oliver has done her part to make that a reality.
On the first day of the NCAA’s early signing period, Oliver made official plans to continue her playing career at Francis Marion University in Florence, a Div. II school in the Peach Belt Conference.
Oliver has started for one of Class 5A’s premier programs since she was a freshman, averaging 8.3 points, 3.2 assists and two steals over the years. She didn’t play as a sophomore due to knee injury.
Baldwin believes the Lady Gators would be working on a championship streak of three years had Oliver been able to play as a sophomore. They were 50-2 in the two seasons she played.
“I know everybody looks at stats but the thing I look at is we won two state championships with her at the point,” Baldwin said. “The point guard is the leader on the floor. She can score if she wants but she’s one of those players who share the ball and looks to give it up to her teammates. She always had the skill set and I think she’ll be a great fit for Francis Marion.”
Oliver had 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists in last year’s comeback victory over Spring Valley. She had a 3-pointer and clutch putback in the Lady Gators’ 9-0 run to win 52-51 in the championship game.
At Francis Marion, she’ll be reunited with former Lady Gators forward Mary Davis. Davis was one of seven seniors on last year’s state title squad and hit the go-ahead free throws in the closing seconds.
Oliver is the lone senior returning for Goose Creek who has consistently been in the starting lineup. She’ll be asked to carry more of a load in scoring and defense.
“Her and the other three seniors have really come in and shown some great leadership,” Baldwin said. “They’re teaching the younger girls.”