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East County Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 1 year ago

Prose and Kohn: Braden River basketball star signs with Seminoles

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She'll have Florida State fans saying 'OMG.'
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Editor

Braden River High basketball star O'Mariah Gordon's has made her choice. 

Starting in 2021, she will be playing basketball for Florida State.

Gordon, a senior at Braden River High, signed with the Seminoles Nov. 12. Gordon is the two-time reigning Gatorade Florida Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Last season, she averaged 23.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 4.2 steals per game, leading the Pirates in each category. 

For Gordon, the decision came down to loyalty.

Gordon said Florida State was one of the first schools to make contact with her, back when she was still in middle school. The Seminoles never wavered in their pursuit of her, Gordon said, unlike other schools who showed early interest and then trailed off. That dedication to Gordon showed her the Seminoles were serious about wanting her to be a key piece of their program. 

O'Mariah Gordon said she signed with Florida State because of the loyalty the Seminoles showed her during her recruitment.

Gordon also said the pandemic affected her decision a bit.

She was not able to take any visits during the offseason because of NCAA pandemic restrictions, which hampered her ability to judge schools she had not previously visited. But she had familiarity with Florida State. She has watched multiple games at the Seminoles' arena, Gordon said, and could envision herself playing there. 

She's comfortable with her decision, but more than anything, Gordon said, she is happy to be done with the process. In fact, when asked if she was relieved, Gordon let out a sighing "yes" and then laughed. 

"It's not just that there was pressure [to make a decision]," Gordon said. "It's that there's relief knowing I did it. I made it to the next level. Now I can focus on the next thing, which is getting ready for my senior season and working on my game."

Gordon, who is 5-foot-4, is ranked by ESPN as the 31st best player in the class of 2021, the seventh-best point guard and the best player in Florida. Yet she believes she has a lot of areas she can improve.

Gordon said she has been working on extending her 3-point range and improving everything she does with her left hand. Gordon is also hitting her conditioning hard. It's the one thing she always hears from older players:, that the speed of college basketball is different and she needs to be prepared.

She wants to get on top of that preparation now, so she doesn't have to adjust to it on the fly. That way, she said, she can make an impact as soon as possible. 

I don't think she has anything to worry about.

OMG (her nickname) has done things on the basketball court I have never seen any high school player do in person, boy or girl. For all the talent she has, her hustle and toughness are just as special. Gordon never takes a play off. Those are the qualities that will separate people at the college level, where everyone is talented. 

It has been fun to cover her high school career, and I'm glad I get to do it one more time, as the community watches her and her Braden River teammates chase a state title. The Pirates have gone farther in the playoffs each year of Gordon's career, reaching the state Final Four in 2019-2020 before falling 80-58 to Wekiva High. 

Gordon said she believes her team has the pieces to make it happen this season. We will soon find out if she's right. The Pirates season begins Nov. 19 with a 6 p.m. home game against Montverde Academy. 

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I’m the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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