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Two players each from the St. Frances’ boys and girls basketball teams took their next steps to the next level. The Panthers hosted a National Signing Day ceremony Wednesday with a number of athletes signing their National Letter of Intent.

Headlining signing day at St. Frances were boys basketball guard Adrian Baldwin, who is headed to Virginia Commonwealth, and girls basketball star Angel Reese, who signed with the Maryland Terrapins. She made her verbal commitment earlier this month with much fanfare when the Panthers tipped off practice.

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Baldwin is a three-star recruit and the state’s sixth-ranked player. He is also listed as the 38th-best point guard in the nation, in addition to being 195th overall in the country, according to 247 Sports.

The point guard’s decision to play for coach Mike Rhoades’ VCU squad came down to him considering a place that felt like home.

“It was like family to me — a second home,” Baldwin said. “It was bigger than basketball to them… I just want to go down there and win and to show them why I’m down there.”

“Ace,” as Baldwin is nicknamed, averaged 14.1 points in 41 games played last year. He and his team have come a long way from being 16-18 during his freshman season.

“[During] Ace’s freshman year, we were 16-18,” St. Frances boys basketball coach Nick Myles stated. “From 16-18, to two back-to-back championships, to player of the year — he actually did the whole journey.

St. Frances Academy basketball player Jamal West, center, signs letter of intent toUniversity of South Alabama with mother Latonya Rooks, right, looking on during ceremony at school. Photo by: Kenneth K. Lam
St. Frances Academy basketball player Jamal West, center, signs letter of intent toUniversity of South Alabama with mother Latonya Rooks, right, looking on during ceremony at school. Photo by: Kenneth K. Lam (Kenneth K. Lam)

“We were good the year before the year he came. Then, we were horrible. He could’ve [gone] anywhere, he stuck with us, he fought through it. We got better — him Jordan [Toles] and the other guys. Just for that whole journey, I’ll never forget.”

Reese, an ESPN five-star recruit, chose to play for the Terps over USC, Syracuse and Tennessee. Her choice came down to being near family and playing for Maryland coach Brenda Frese, who carries a 490-149 (.767) record and a national championship through 16 seasons at College Park.

“She’s been recruiting me since the eighth grade,” Reese said of Frese. “She’s always been there and let the assistant coach take over the process. I think it was that they could develop me there and I want to be a pro. They had five pros in the championship game.

“So, that’s a goal for me — my family has always been there to support me, so that they could see me play in College Park whenever they want to.”

Reese averaged 22.6 points and 19.3 rebounds, which netted her Baltimore Sun All-Metro honors and the USA Today Maryland Player of the Year award. She was also the Capital Classic MVP and has led her team to three IAAM championships and as she looks for her fourth during the 2018-19 season.

Boys basketball forward Jamal West signed with South Alabama and girls shooting guard Khalia Turner will be headed to Bowie State.

West came in as a transfer from Dunbar. He is a two-star recruit, ranked 12th in the state (414th nationally) and 81st at his position. He will join former St. Frances forward Josh Ayeni at South Alabama.

“They take care of their players and they go beyond basketball,” West said. “The whole time that I was down there we barely talked about basketball. That was just like “save it for another day”.”

Turner was also a key cog in the three championship teams for the Panthers, averaging 5.8 points in her junior campaign. She was also recruited by Morgan State before making her selection of Bowie State.

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“I just like how it was like a family atmosphere just like how St. Frances is,” said Turner. “The girls were welcoming, the coaches were welcoming as well.”

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