Each still has a season to contribute to more success at Lower Richland High, yet M.J. Rhett and Kelsey Grochow secured their college futures Wednesday.Rhett signed a national letter of intent to play basketball with Tennessee State, while Grochow signed papers to accept a softball scholarship at S.C. State during a ceremony at the Diamond Mine.
Rhett and Grochow will join a long line of former Lower Richland athletes who have gone on to college. Both talked excitedly about finishing their Diamond Hornets careers strong before taking that next step.
"I feel relieved," Rhett said. "Now I can focus on my senior year and my academics."
Rhett’s father, Joe Rhett, played college basketball at South Carolina. The Gamecocks played an indirect role in the 6-foot-8 MJ Rhett choosing Tennessee State.
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Former USC assistant coach John Cooper, who worked at USC during Eddie Fogler’s coaching tenure, is in his first season at Tennessee State’s head coach. One of his assistants is Sheldon Everett, a former Lexington High player who played for coach Dave Odom at USC. MJ Rhett said his comfort level with both is a big reason he’s joining the Ohio Valley Conference school.
Preparing for his first season at Lower Richland after transferring from Richland Northeast, MJ Rhett said his father gave him some good advice about preparing for college basketball.
"He said no matter where you are, always play hard," M.J. Rhett said. "You never know who is watching."
Rhett plans to study sports medicine at Tennessee State.
Grochow, a shortstop who has played her entire high school career for the Diamond Hornets, will stay closer to home at S.C. State.
She intends to study biology and chemistry in preparation for attending medical school.
She’ll also take her softball talents to the Bulldogs. Grochow batted .434 for Lower Richland as a junior last spring.
She looks forward to joining the Bulldogs, who were 7-30 last season.
"They are building a program and that’s something I wanted to be a part of," Grochow said.