GRAPELAND – Grapeland Sandies standout Keizion Ashford advanced his athletic career Friday by choosing to play collegiate basketball at Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
Ashford wrapped up his senior season with his first state title game appearance – where he dropped 19 points, earned all-state honors and earned district defensive MVP.
He joins the Iowa Wesleyan Tigers basketball program that is headed by Alex Huisman who is in his seventh season as head coach of the team.
“[Signing] day was special for me,” Ashford said. “Playing on the next level is something I've wanted since I was little.”
Though Ashford was recognized for his defensive play, he also offered another scoring threat for the Sandies. He averaged 14 points per game and four assists during Grapeland's 29-win season.
On the defensive end, he averaged nearly four steals per game, which included a pair of 10 steal games against Slocum and Groveton, along with 13 total steals in their two match ups against Centerville.
“This means everything to see Keizion get a chance on the next level,” head coach Blake Doughty said. “I'm thankful to be a small part in his journey and have the opportunity to pour into this young man. I've watched him grow and I'm excited to watch him pursue his dream of playing college basketball over the next four years.”
Over 95% over Ashford's education expenses will be taken of at Iowa Wesleyan, which is an opportunity not a lot of athletes – from any classification – can say they have.
“Keizion and I had in-depth conversations about the fact that him taking advantage of this opportunity opens the door for all these younger guys,” Doughty said. “He's going to be an ambassador for this program and this community.”
Ashford and coach Doughty continued to emphasize how this can change the trajectory of his life. He enters college hoping to pursue a degree in sports science.
He will be a part of Division III school in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). The Tigers went 5-10 this past year in a shortened season.