Raven Fox finds role at Syracuse after detour to junior college

first_img Published on February 19, 2018 at 9:13 pm Contact Billy: wmheyen@syr.edu | @Wheyen3 Raven Fox looked at her report card and saw an unfamiliar grade: a C. She was “distraught,” because it was her first C in four semesters at Gulf Coast State College.Fox ended up at GC in part because of too many low grades in high school. At junior college, all her grades were higher than that C. This time, at least, the C wouldn’t hold her back from getting where she wanted to be.As a senior in high school, Fox had an offer to play at Syracuse. She knew it was the school she wanted to attend, but her eligibility would have been in question because of a poor academic record. Fox took a two-year detour to Gulf Coast before finding her way back to Syracuse (20-7, 8-6 Atlantic Coast), where she plays a key role as an undersized frontcourt player off SU’s bench. She played a season-high 25 minutes in the Orange’s upset of then-No. 17 Duke last Thursday.“I just wanted to go straight to a D-I school, and I couldn’t do that because I had to get my academics right first,” Fox said.The goal had been Division I basketball for much of Fox’s life. Her grandfather, Harold Fox Sr., played a year in the NBA in the 1970s. Her brother, Devin Sweeney, played at St. Francis (Pennsylvania) before finding professional action overseas. It was no surprise to Harold Fox, Jr., her father, when she started to dribble a basketball at 4 and specifically wanted to learn the game from him by the time she was 5.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen Fox asked her father, Harold, to teach her the game, he knew he had to show her “the right way” to play. So, he taught her solid basketball fundamentals. He got on her case when she traveled, even as a 5-year-old. He played Fox up an age group during AAU, putting her up against 11 year olds when she was 8.The early coaching and basketball bloodlines began to pay off in seventh grade, when Fox started receiving letters from colleges. By high school, the recruiting had become “intense,” Harold said. That changed when schools looked at Fox’s grades.“After (schools) found out about my academic situation they stopped contacting me,” Fox said.She and her father both said self-discipline was her academic problem in high school. Fox’s focus was all basketball, all the time. So as a mutual decision between her family and those at SU, Fox decided she needed the junior-college route to grow academically.Anna Henderson | Digital Design EditorSU head coach Quentin Hillsman had already been recruiting Fox before her low grades came to the forefront. Even after, his scholarship offer remained on the table. He had also heard good things about Mary Scovel, the head coach at Gulf Coast, and recommended that particular junior college to Fox, Harold said. The whole undertaking served as a wake-up call.“When she got to college,” Harold said, “… The green light hit.”Fox’s conviction that she would end up at Syracuse never wavered after arriving at Gulf Coast. Other schools recruited her throughout the two years, but she always made sure they knew that she was going to SU.“Even if we were being recruited by anyone else,” Harold said, “she was going back to Syracuse because (Hillsman) was so loyal to us.”The Orange also remained appealing to Fox with its performance while she bided her time in junior college. In her freshman year at GC, Syracuse went on a run to the national championship game. Fox watched every game with her teammates.“They were kind of upset because all the schools that were recruiting them, they got knocked out,” Fox said. “I was the only one standing, and they were kind of doubting (Syracuse), but I wasn’t, I knew (SU) was going to make it.”Grades were Fox’s first focus at Gulf Coast. Her goal when she picked the junior college route was to “grow academically.” Looking back, she called GC a “great learning experience.” Harold said “either you put up or you shut up, and she put up.” Her grades rose drastically from high school, Harold said, raising her GPA above the 3.0 mark. And although Fox’s goals had everything to do with graduating from Gulf Coast and getting her grades to the level needed to play for Syracuse, her time on the basketball court worked out well there, too.In Fox’s two seasons at Gulf Coast, the Commodores won two NJCAA Division I national championships. Eight players from last year’s GC team went on to play at NCAA Division-I schools this season, including Fox.It was the grades that originally held her back. Two years later, overcoming her former obstacle propelled her to Syracuse.“It was our job to get her back,” Scovel said.  “… She came to us and was on a mission to get to Syracuse.”Scovel accomplished that. She reminds her players that when they show up at a Division-I school, they’re juniors. There’s no time for her graduates to sit around at new schools. They’ve got to show up ready to go, and Fox did that at SU.In her first game on a team that returned one starter from last year, Fox played 20 minutes off the bench. She hasn’t started but has topped 14 minutes off the bench in half of the Orange’s 26 games. For Fox, finally getting to the stage she waited two years to arrive at was surreal.“The first game when we walked into the locker room and you see your last name on a jersey,” Fox said, “it kind of made me emotional because of everything I went through to get here, and it finally happened. Like hard work does actually pay off.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img