Arkoful powers Missy Gators

Published 12:10 am Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ama Arkoful remembers watching her cousin, Shakayla Caples, power Warren Central to several victories from 2006-09. As a freshman guard at Vicksburg High, Arkoful is on her way to following Caples’ path on the basketball court.

Arkoful joins Caples as the second freshman to be named the Vicksburg Post’s Girls Player of the Year. Caples did it in 2006 for the Lady Vikes. Caples is now the leading scorer on national champion Trinity Valley Community College in Texas.

“I loved to watch her play,” Arkoful said. “Gary Lee, who’s my dad now, took me to see Warren Central play Vicksburg. She got me inspired to play basketball. To now join my cousin, Shakayla, as the top player, is great.”

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Arkoful finished her freshman campaign with the Missy Gators as the county’s top scorer with 16.6 points per game. She also had 3.2 assists and 2.6 steals per game as Vicksburg finished 12-13.

Arkoful is dreaming of better results next year.

“We’re going to win state,” Arkoful said, confidently.

To get there, she’ll spend the summer refining her game with the Mississippi Fire, an AAU team out of Brandon.

“I play for Jonathan Sanders’ team,” Arkoful said. “Paris Ladner from Northwest Rankin is a teammate. I just love being able to play against the best talent around the country. Last year we went to Atlanta, won a championship in Columbus and we beat the No. 1 team in the country, VFW, in Arkansas.”

Arkoful said the AAU stage has helped her get notice from college recruiters.

“I’ve already gotten a letter from South Carolina and SMU,” Arkoful said. “My No. 1 choice is Tennessee, provided coach Pat Summitt is still there. I also like Baylor.”

Vicksburg coach Barbara Hartzog would just like to see Arkoful stay focused on the Missy Gators.

“The key for us is to build that relationship, so our understanding of another gets better and that leads to more confidence for her,” Hartzog said. “She’s a natural at point guard. She just needs to learn when to take over and when to get her teammates involved. She’s improved her 12-foot jump shot and sees the floor well.