Chyanna Canada remembers the exact day when reality hit.
It was Sept. 1 of last year, the start of her junior year at Nottingham High School, when colleges started reaching out to her via phone or text, along with sending stacks of mail to her Syracuse, New York home.
That was the point when a dream of playing college basketball became a strong possibility.
“That is when I just realized that, ‘Wow, this is real, this is a reality, that this is your future, that you can do this, you’ve done this for yourself,’” Canada said. “Playing on my AAU team, I played with a lot of big name players, so I wasn’t really anybody who people were going to see.”
It became official when the 6-foot-2-inch forward signed on with Temple for next season, along with Philadelphia local Deja Reynolds, the team announced Wednesday.
Like Canada, Reynolds realized that playing Division I basketball was a reality last September, when Iona College in New Rochelle, New York reached out as her first offer.
Then a call came from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey, and then Temple, where both recruits said they felt right at home after each paying their own visits to campus.
“I enjoyed the student life, the life of the city,” Canada said. “The people were very diverse when I went around. I liked the class atmosphere that they had, and the team itself is what made me feel the most comfortable. I felt like a part of the family, like I belong there.”
The now-senior forward is a three-time All-League selection for her high school team. She recorded 14 points and 12 rebounds per game in her junior year to make for a run that brought her an All-Area selection and an All-Central New York Team selection, along with a second-straight year in which she averaged a double-double.
Reynolds, meanwhile, averaged 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds in her junior year at Imhotep Charter High School. She eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her high school career in the process, while helping her team to a 22-2 record and the Philadelphia Girls Public City Championship.
The title was clinched under the lights of the Liacouras Center, on Reynolds’ future campus.
Both she and Canada will be playing in the venue a year from now, but the moment at the time was something Reynolds had to take in.
“I was really nervous playing on the floor,” Reynolds said. “[I thought], ‘Wow, I get to play on the college floor that I’m going to before I’m here.’ It was just a ‘wow’ moment.”
Reynolds plans to major in physical therapy when she gets to Temple next year, and Canada is looking to work toward a business degree.
Both, however, have aspirations to go as far they can with basketball, be it playing professionally overseas or in the WNBA.
But for Canada, who also said she would like to become a college coach, these are other possibilities that could soon turn into reality.
“I never imagined that I’d be going to school for free to play,” Canada said. “When you play high school basketball, everybody’s dream is to go to school for free and to play basketball at a college, and then go pro.”
“But then, when you actually realize that it’s possible for you, that just makes you so much more hungry to get better and so much more active and aggressive in getting better and developing your craft,” she added.
Nick Tricome can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @itssnick215