FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --It's no accident that when a student-athlete earns a scholarship to play in college they're excited.
"When I was out on the collegiate side, recruiting a lot of the coaches would ask me where I was from," CV Lady Heat head coach Demetrius Porter said. "I told them I was from the Central Valley, Fresno, and they didn't know where that was. They think California is just the Bay Area and LA."
Porter, a former Washington Union High School and Fresno State standout, has spent most of his life in and around the game of basketball - first as a player and now as a coach.
"We got a program we call the Central Valley Lady Heat," he said. "We have girls from Bakersfield, Hanford, Tulare, Fresno, all over. I went off and coached at the collegiate level on the women's side. So, when I came back to Fresno, I wanted to use my contacts to help women in the Central Valley get recruited."
It's so far, so good. Now in their fourth year of existence, the Central Valley Lady Heat have helped eight players get recruited to major Division-1 schools, and with a handful of future prospects from 4th-grade and up in the pipeline.
"I'm very grateful," player Kambrayia Elzy said. "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't know what college I'm going to right now."
Elzy, a Mission Oak High School product, has verbally committed to play for UNLV, while her teammate and Central High star Ramani Parker currently has nearly 40 schools looking at her thanks to the exposure of playing for the Lady Heat.
"It helped me go out in the world and make decisions, like which path you are going to go down," Parker said. "My path is to go to a really good college, hopefully, a scholarship, play overseas and play in the WNBA."
That's the mind set the team is looking for - playing with a purpose to compete, showcase skills while furthering their education through the game of basketball.
"Grades is also something he gets on us about," Parker said. "If you don't have good grades, he will be on us until our grades are up."
"I just think basketball gives them a tool and a hope to be something successful," Porter said. "A lot of our girls, not all come from humbling situations."
"This is an opportunity for them to receive a free education. They have an opportunity to receive that type of benefits from schools, I tell them they have to go out there and get it."
School and sports are proving once again to be a winning combination.