Gianni Ford couldn’t wait any longer.
The Boys & Girls guard showed plenty of patience waiting for scholarship offers to roll in, and more might have come if he held out, but he found a good fit — and he’s taking it. Ford announced he will play men’s basketball at St. Francis College during a ceremony at the Bedford-Stuyvesant school on April 22. Surrounded by teammates, family, and friends, he picked St. Francis over Gambling, North Carolina A&T, Long Island University, Iona, and Stony Brook, which all had interest in him.
“I talked to him an hour ago,” Boys & Girls coach Ruth Lovelace said. “I said, ‘Gianni are you sure this is it?’ Because he has like four others on the table saying they were gonna offer. He said, ‘You know what coach? This is it. I slept on this for a couple of days. I felt comfortable with the coaches and the players. I think this is where we need to be.’ ”
The Terriers came on strong for Ford over the last three weeks — and a scrimmage with the team on his visit clinched things. Ford, who averaged 18.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists last season, showed coach Glenn Braica he could be a true point guard. And he made an immediate connection with the team. Jefferson guard Rasheem Dunn is also St. Francis-bound.
“I did what I had to do,” Ford said. “After that, [Braica] called me in for a meeting and told me and my family, ‘I need you here.’ ”
He never felt the draw of going away. After watching friends Brent Jones and Sheldon Hagigal succeed on the court with St. Francis, he became confident he could too. The Terriers are one of the top programs in the Northeast Conference.
Ford isn’t a kid you have to worry about being caught up in pitfalls of remaining in Brooklyn, Lovelace said. Father Severio and mother Liza are good family, and Ford is constantly in the gym.
“Sometimes kids go places, and it doesn’t pan out,” Lovelace said. “I think it would be hard for this not to pan out.”
Basketball has been Ford’s obsession since he was a fourth-grader. He played with his brother and kids four years older than him on his father’s Lightning travel ball team when they were down kids. Ford’s love for the game has gotten him far.
“He has a lot of mileage on him in terms of basketball and what he likes,” his father said. “He spends so much time working on his game. [Today] it really kind of sank in that we are really there.”
It was a long wait, but now Ford will get a free ride to a school where he believes he can make an impact right away — something that was very important to him.
“I just had to be patient,” Ford said. “I know my worth. I know I am a great player. I know I am a Division-I player. I just had to wait it out.”