The stands in the Anniston High gym were full and friends and family were on the court, including Sylacauga forward and Southern Starz teammate Shakayla Thomas, who committed to Florida State on Wednesday. With Florida State one of Bolton’s top four finalists, it was a general assumption she would be signing with Florida State, too.
However, for nearly three weeks Bolton had known she wanted to attend Alabama, and after signing her National Letter of Intent, the forward fittingly started and ended her speech with “Roll Tide.”
“The staff made me feel like I was at home and the team welcomed me in and showed how they really cared about having me,” Bolton said. “My family can actually come see me play or just come whenever I need them and that’s big.
“It feels great. I feel like it relieved a lot of stress that I felt. I was going out on the court and worrying about who I was going to play for. I feel like me signing relieves that stress and I can play loose now.”
Bolton chose Alabama over Florida State, LSU and South Carolina.
“I knew Alabama was it,” Bolton said. “After I made my decision I actually went back for the LSU (football) game, I just didn’t post any pictures or anything. I knew Alabama is where I wanted to go.”
Anniston coach Eddie Bullock said he stayed away from the recruiting process mostly because he wanted his starting center to make the decision on her own and didn’t want his personal opinions to interfere.
But when Bolton, who is Bullock’s niece, went to his house two-and-a-half weeks ago saying she had made a decision, he was all ears.
“We sat in the car, talked and she told me she wanted to go to Alabama,” Bullock said. “She said she didn’t want anyone to know and she wanted to make the announcement herself.”
The announcement came the day before Anniston opens its season against Winterboro on the road tonight.
Bullock said Bolton will be used all over the court throughout her senior season, benefiting the Bulldogs and preparing her for the move from center to small forward in college.
“She’s played a 5 for me because she’s the biggest kid on the floor, but she’s got a great jump shot. What I’ve done is let her play the point some, so once she works on her ball handling and beating people off the dribble, the 3 is in between that,” Bullock said. “She’s got the shooting part down, but she needs to work on being aggressive and breaking people down. I’ve got a lot of plays designed to bring her out on the floor for that mismatch.”
Bolton averaged 23 points a game and 13 rebounds last season, leading Anniston to the Northeast Super Regional.
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star