• 66°

Oxford’s Malone signs on with Gulf Coast CC

Kyla Malone had options for where she could continue playing basketball after her senior season, plenty of options.

Just about every junior college in Mississippi recruited the Oxford High girls basketball player as well as her mother’s alma mater of Delta State. Once it was all said and done, Malone decided to choose the school that was farthest from Oxford, but also the one she felt was the best fit for her as she committed to play basketball at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on Friday inside the Oxford High library.

“(MGCCC coach Jason Conner) was talking about how his program was run and I also liked the girls that I met there. They seemed like a really great bunch,” Malone said of her choice. “I also liked the way (Conner) said he would develop me and I liked the campus.”

During her time at Oxford, Malone was primarily a power forward and would spend time as a center when the situation called for it. That experience helped Gulf Coast recruit Malone for a similar position that they were lacking when it came to depth as well as the need for her to make an impact immediately.

“I think with Kyla just getting to play is something she was looking forward to,” Oxford girls coach Cliff Ormon said. “She’s gotten healthy and able to just go right in and being more expected to play right away at a four-year school. I think that is one of the big pluses she’ll have.”

Malone’s ACL injury kept her out for her sophomore and junior seasons, but she was able to return for a full senior year, which earned her a spot on this year’s EAGLE All-Area team. The injury was a topic of discussion between her and prospective schools looking to recruit her, but mostly the focus was what she could produce for them on the court.

“They were pretty focused on my injury,” Malone said. “They asked was I comfortable, and I was comfortable later on in the year. So, I think that helped a lot with the schools being interested and my decision.”

With a lot of choices to pick from, Malone leaned on her mother, Oxford assistant coach Stacy Malone, for advice since she had gone through this process once herself already and could give guidance in the process.

“They gave me a lot of advice,” Kyla said. “They told me I need to make sure I’m happy because I can’t go back since it’s a junior college.”