By Alex Byington
Harker Heights Herald
While her mother was stationed in Iraq for much of last year, Eboniey Jeter longed to give her the perfect welcome-home present.
"The whole time she was gone, I was thinking, I have to get a scholarship for her," Jeter said. "You know, 'Good news, perfect news, I got a scholarship.'"
So, following her varsity practices, the 6-foot Harker Heights junior center hit the gym hard, spending nearly every evening lifting weights and working on her post game with her no-nonsense father spearheading the effort.
"I would call him my personal trainer before I'd call him my dad," Jeter joked.
Added her father, Herman Jeter: "I took a lot of fussing - a lot of fussing - because she didn't really take it as serious, but I told her if she wanted a scholarship, she was going to have to work her butt off and that's what she did."
Although the present came a few months late, all the hard work paid off Wednesday when Eboniey signed with North Texas during a ceremony at the Harker Heights gym. Wednesday was National Signing Day, the first official day high school seniors can sign athletic scholarships with prospective colleges.
"Everybody knew she had the potential to get (to the Division I level)," Heights coach Shirretha Nelson said. "It was a matter of time. She'd taken all the steps to get the ride, we were just waiting for the call."
Playing her first varsity season, averaging 10.4 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds, Eboniey found her niche in her relentless work under the basket, eventually helping power the Lady Knights (27-11) to the Region II-5A quarterfinals.
"When I got back from Iraq, I saw a different ball player, I really did," said her mother, Sgt. First Class Latunia Jeter, who returned after a year-long deployment earlier this year. The first game she watched Eboniey play in was the epic regional quarterfinal game against Ellison last February.
A first-team All-District 12-5A selection, even earning recognition as the Daily Herald's All-Area girls Newcomer of the Year, Eboniey credited her father's uncompromising approach to her workouts with ultimately making the biggest difference in her game.
It was Eboniey's similar unyielding work ethic on the boards that ultimately drew the eye of first-year North Texas head coach Karen Aston during a Mean Green basketball camp in June.
"I just showed them I can jump out of the gym just like a college student," Eboniey said. "When I went to the camp, it was like, 'I'm just like a college student, I can do exactly what you guys do, maybe a little better."