When she came to the United States from Jamaica in seventh grade, being recruited to play Division 1 basketball was not even on Latanya Berry’s radar.
The Sterling senior had been a standout in netball in her hometown of Kingston, but she hadn’t even picked up a basketball before coming to this country.
All that, of course, just makes her that much prouder of what she has accomplished.
A meteoric rise led the 6-foot-3 forward to the signing table in November where, sporting a green Manhattan College T-shirt, she signed a letter of intent to play for the Jaspers.
“The recruiting process was a lot. I had to sit down with my family and choose the right spot for me. And Manhattan is only about five minutes away from my uncle. So it was really close to family, which was nice. The coaching staff was really great and it really felt like home,” Berry said.
A sense of home was important to Berry. In addition to actually being close to family members, she also felt a family atmosphere on the Manhattan campus.
And the coaching staff isn’t without South Jersey ties.
Allie Bassetti, an assistant for the Jaspers, is a former Washington Township standout and former coach of the Philadelphia Belles — Berry’s current AAU team.
It’s not hard to see why Berry — a smooth and powerful post presence on the verge of both her 1,000th point and 1,000th rebound — was heavily recruited.
She fell in love with basketball, dedicated herself to it, and has taken steps forward every year since.
Coach Kylie Marchese, a former star player for Sterling, took over the Silver Knights as coach in Berry’s freshman season. She said she has been impressed with Berry’s fast rise and the work that she has put in to get where she is.
“We’ve kind of grown up together,” Marchese said. “She’s my first D-1 signing — so it’s really good for her and really good for our program. We had a lot of [college] coaches coming out to watch the team, so it was exciting for everyone.”
Berry has gone from netball to basketball; from Jamaica to America. And she’s already looking forward to finding out where she can go from here.
“It just means a lot to me and my family,” Berry said. “I’m just proud to be able to have an opportunity like this.”