SYLACAUGA -- Houston Ford had a dream of playing on the next level, and it became a reality Thursday as he signed a letter-of-intent to play basketball at Southern Union during a ceremony in the B.B. Comer High School library.

“It is a good opportunity,” Ford said. “I plan to make the most of all my opportunities. I’m not going up here to just explore the college life. I want to go up there and make myself better. I am going to go to class.

“I would like to thank God, because without him, this opportunity wouldn’t be possible. I would like to thank my family, especially my mother, and I would like to thank my teammates.”

The Comer standout has shown he has the talent to be one of the best players in the state. The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 24 points per game for the Tigers.

Even though Ford had a stellar season, he wasn’t drawing any significant interest from college coaches. He said he is grateful that Southern Union head coach Ron Radford is giving him a chance to play college basketball.

“Since I was younger, everybody told me that I was going to go Division I, but when it came down to it, I didn’t have anybody to help me put my name out there,” Ford said. “He (Radford) noticed me and he is the only one that noticed me.

“I am going to go up there and give him 110 percent. I am going to give him everything that I’ve got. I am going to go up and make myself a better person and a better player at the same time.”

Radford is pleased to have the opportunity to coach Ford over the next two years. Radford believes the sky’s the limit for Ford if he comes in and buys into the program.

“I see a guy that has tremendous upside,” Radford said. “I think his best days are in front of him. It is going to take a lot of hard work. If he comes in with the right attitude and does the right things, he can get there. I think from our place to wherever the next place is going to be, I think that opportunity is going to be tremendous for him.

“He also gives us a little bit more size at the guard position than what we have returning. I’m trying to look at guards that are little bit bigger. We have a couple of good small guards, one in particular is really good, but we need to get a little bit more size at that position. He gives us that … I think he has a good future.”

For B.B. Comer, Ford is the first athlete to sign a scholarship in at least six years.

Comer head coach Eddie Daniels believes seeing Ford sign may inspire other students to work hard in the classroom and on the playing field to earn a scholarship.

“It is real exciting for me, the student-athletes and for the school to see that there is athletics beyond here and that you can get your education paid for,” Daniels said. “I am real excited to see what he makes of this, because his potential is unlimited.”

Ford has set several goals for himself going into Southern Union. He said Southern Union can expect him to work hard to be the best student-athlete that he can be.

“They can expect me to come down there and go as hard as I can in the classroom first,” Ford said. “I want to come out with an at least 3.8 GPA. I am going to work as hard I can on the court every day. Even on the days when we don’t have practice, I plan on getting myself in the gym and putting in work.”

Radford believes that if Ford embraces the work hard that he is going to have to put in while at Southern Union, he will have the opportunity to sign with a Division I program.

“Just his talent and what he can be,” Radford said. “What you can project him and see him being if he comes in and works extremely hard. I think at the end of the day, if he improves the way I hope he does, he will have a chance to play not only at the four-year level, but he may also have a chance to play at the mid-major schools once he leaves our program. That is what I see in him. He is going to have to work to get that done, but we will work and see in two years where it will take him.”

LaVonte Young is the Sports Editor for The Daily Home. Contact him at lyoung@dailyhome.com or follow him on Twitter @LYoung_DHSports.