By Kyle Daubs
Charleston senior guard Shae Littleford committed to continue her basketball career at the University of Tennessee-Martin. The NCAA Division I school plays in the Ohio Valley Conference and has invested in bringing in Littleford since her sophomore season.
“I chose UT-Martin because of their coaching staff, program history, and playing style,” said Littleford. “I visited in July after my sophomore season and I fell in love with their coaching staff. They are always at the top of the OVC and they play fast and in-your-face basketball, which is my style of play.”
In 2019, Littleford was a First-Team All-State selection, the Decatur Herald Player of the Year and an All-Apollo guard after a sensational season that saw Charleston go 29-1. That year, Littleford set a school record for points in a season (707) and scored 36, 35, 33, and 33 points, which all rank in the top-10 for single-game performances.
Littleford currently ranks fourth (1,611) on CHS’s career point list and is poised to be the school’s leader in points, if a season is played. Along with her offense, Littleford has made an impact on other sides of the game. Littleford’s 111 steals her sophomore season are a school record while her 115 assists that season were third-most ever. She ranks fourth all-time in assists (276) and steals (243) and could overtake those accolades, too.
Littleford is listed as a 3½ star prospect, according to Prospects Nation.
“Her basketball IQ is off the charts,” said Charleston coach Jeff Miller. “She is one of the best leaders I have ever coached on either the boys or girls side. They are second to none. She is just such a talented player and can bring a lot to the table. Shae can get to the rim, shoot and is not afraid of contact. I feel she is going to step in and play right away.”
UT-Martin tied Belmont for the regular-season Ohio Valley Conference title last season with a 16-2 mark and an overall record of 22-10. The team missed out on the NCAA Tournament after losing to Southeast Missouri in the OVC Championship Game.
Littleford cited UT-Martin’s continuous efforts towards competing for an NCAA berth as a main reason she chose UT-Martin. Littleford declined an offer from EIU.
“My goal has always been to win a conference championship and play in the NCAA tournament,” said Littleford. “UT-Martin gives me the best chance to do so.”
Due to a knee injury, Littleford only played in 16 games last season. When she is on the floor, Charleston has gone 61-19.
“It’s a great accomplishment for somebody who has worked her tail off to get into this position,” said Miller. “When you watch her play, you see how much she puts into it. Between AAU, travel ball, and here in Charleston, she has literally worked her way into this position. UT-Martin isn’t just getting a really good basketball player, but a great overall person, too.”
Littleford’s family has been a part of her basketball journey. Littleford played with her sister, Sydney, for two seasons, while her father, Jim, was a coach on the Charleston Middle School state championship team, and is serving as an assistant coach on the high school team this year.
“I would like to thank my family. They are a fantastic support system and have supported my decisions from the start of the recruiting process,” said Littleford. “I would also like to thank my High School and AAU coaches. They continue to push me so I can be the best player and person I can be. I also want to thank my teammates for always having my back and pushing me to my fullest potential.”