S H O R T S H O R T S
ANIYA RIVERS, who stands 6-feet-tall, is often referred to as
Wilmington’s female Michael Jordan.
Saniya Rivers poses after a game with a young fan who emulated her double braids.
“People always tell us, ‘We love her game,’ but most of all
they want to commend her on her attitude and staying
humble. That’s the main thing we really appreciate as par-ents,”
says Donnell Rivers.
Mom and dad are happy Saniya will be playing rela-tively
close to home. The University of South Carolina is in
Columbia, about three and a half hours from Wilmington.
“I’ve been preparing her because I know what it looks like
at the next level and it’s not all peaches and cream, there’s
going to be some hard work involved,” says Dee Dee Rivers.
The work ethic it takes to be the best is something
Donnell and Dee Dee have instilled in their daughter.
“It’s so easy to get complacent when you get to a certain
place, but you have to realize there’s always someone in the
gym trying to get better than you, therefore you have to
keep working on your craft,” says Donnell.
Saniya tells aspiring players to focus on ball handling and
agility drills and don’t ever forget why they started playing
basketball in the first place.
“If you’re not having fun, don’t do it,” she says. “Basketball
is a fun sport. When you play, live in the moment.”
“It was my first offer
when I was in eighth
grade,” she says. “It’s the
best fit for me; the coach
is a proven winning
coach, and I feel really
comfortable with the
players. With women’s
basketball a lot of peo-ple
don’t appreciate it
as much as they should
but when you see the
games at South Carolina
you would think it was a
men’s game. It’s just an
Rivers, who attended
Laney High School
her freshman and
sophomore years, aver-aged
25.0 points, 11.8
rebounds, 6.4 steals and
4.3 assists per game as a
junior at Ashley and was
named the 2019/2020
North Carolina Gatorade
Girls Basketball Player of
Rivers, the youngest
of four children, is the
daughter of two college basketball players. Mom, Dee
Dee Toon Rivers, played for University of North Carolina
Wilmington. Dad, Jimmy Donnell Rivers, played for Elon
College and Hoggard High School before that.
“It’s in her blood,” Donnell Rivers says.
Saniya Rivers, who stands 6-feet-tall, is often referred to
as Wilmington’s female Michael Jordan. Jordan was a Laney
High School graduate who went on to star at UNC and in
“Michael Jordan is definitely the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all
time) so that makes me feel good,” Rivers laughs.
Jordan’s fans wanted to “Be Like Mike.” Rivers, who is
known for her trademark long braids, already has fans want-ing
to “Be Like Saniya,” including the little girl who waited for
her outside the locker room after a playoff game.
“It was probably the sweetest thing that’s ever happened,”
she says. “There was this little girl and she had her two
braids and I had my two braids and I said, ‘Are you twinning
with me?’ She gave me the biggest hug.”
Dee Dee and Donnell Rivers are proud of their daughter,
who remains grounded despite the national attention.
WBM august 2020
COURTESY SANIYA RIVERS