STARKVILLE – Vic Schaefer added another crop of standout players Wednesday, inking in-state products Jazzmun Holmes and Jazmine Spears along with Washington, D.C., center Zion Campbell on the first day of the early signing period.
Jazzmun Holmes — 5-8, G, Gulfport, Miss. (Harrison Central HS)
Holmes, an athletic 5-8 guard from Harrison Central High School in Gulfport, earned three stars from ESPN/HoopGurz and rated 31st at her position.
“Jazz is a young lady that is going to be a great player for us as a combo guard. It’s very important, in my mind, that to get to that next level you need a great combo guard that can play the 1 and 2, and Jazz fits all that,” Schaefer said. “She sees the floor extremely well, and she can go off the bounce and shoot the three. I love her competitiveness, and she understands floor spacing and where the ball needs to go as good as any high school kid I think I have ever seen. Once again, we feel like we have signed the best player in Mississippi.”
ProspectsNation.com gave Holmes four stars, rating her 30th nationally at the point and 135th overall.
“I’m very excited. They made me feel part of their family when I went there,” Holmes said. “The players and coaches all have such great personalities.”
The two-time Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen selection had an explosive junior season, averaging 18.4 points and 5.1 rebounds en route to earning all-state accolades.
Holmes also averaged 3.6 steals and 3.9 assists per game in leading Harrison Central to a 20-11 record and the Mississippi Class 6A semifinals.
“Jazzmun is the one that holds our team together. She’s like our Energizer bunny because our team goes as she goes,” Harrison Central coach Nancy Ladner said. “She gives everything she has all the time, and she’s just as good of a person as she is a player.
“I really hate to see graduation come because I am going to miss her, but Mississippi State is getting an exciting player and a great person. I know she will make Harrison Central proud.”
The standout 2013-14 campaign earned her a second Sun Herald All-South Mississippi team honor and a spot in the South Mississippi All-Star Basketball Showcase.
She was also selected to play in the Mississippi Association of Coaches’ North/South All-Star Game last spring, scoring 17 points for the South squad.
Holmes was named to the 2013-14 Dandy Dozen along with current Bulldogs Victoria Vivians and Blair Schaefer after a stellar sophomore campaign that saw her average 17 points and four steals in leading the Red Rebelettes to the Class 6A semis.
She follows in her parents’ footsteps to Mississippi State. Shayla Holmes-Nelson, Her mother and Mississippi Ballers AAU coach, played soccer for the Bulldogs. Her father, Tim, was a defensive standout for the Bulldog football team from 1996-99, helping MSU to the 1998 SEC Western Division title and appearances in the Cotton Bowl and Peach Bowl.
“We are so excited that Jazz has decided to continue a great family tradition here at Mississippi State,” Schaefer said.
Jazmine Spears — 6-0, F, New Albany, Miss. (New Albany HS/Trinity Valley CC)
Spears, a 6-0 forward from New Albany, signed with the Bulldogs in April, 2013, before going to Trinity Valley Community College.
“It’s exciting to be a Bulldog again. I started a Bulldog and will always be a Bulldog,” Spears said. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to go home and play in your home state in front of friends and family.”
Under the guidance of current MSU assistant Elena Lovato, Spears helped Trinity Valley win the 2014 NJCAA national title, the school’s third straight, while earning WBCA All-America honorable mention accolades.
“Coach Lovato is someone who knows me and how I play,” Spears said. “She is a good coach who knows what it takes to win, but she is a great person who has always been there to pick me up in hard times.”
Spears, rated the nation’s seventh-best junior college sophomore by HoopGurlz, was stellar for the 36-1 Lady Cardinals, averaging 11.9 points behind 50.5 percent shooting. She also crashed the boards at a 7.6 per-game clip.
A NJCAA Region 14 honorable mention selection a year ago, Spears enters her sophomore campaign at TVCC looking to guide the squad to another national championship under the tutelage of coach Gerald Ewing.
“Jazmine has been a solid piece of my new tenure as head coach here at Trinity Valley. She has started to figure some things out, and she has the chance to be a special player,” Ewing said. “Jazmine has made my transition to being the head coach a lot smoother.
“She is a tough player who knows how to create space down low, but she can also step out and shoot the 3. I think we have a chance to win another national championship with her. She was instrumental in us winning it last year, and we are looking for big things from her again this season.”
Spears initially signed with the Bulldogs following a stellar prep career under John Stroud at New Albany High School.
“I’m really proud of Jazmine. She won a national championship her freshman year at Trinity Valley, and she’s done a tremendous job in the classroom which is what she needed,” Schaefer said. “I think she’s highly motivated as a basketball player knowing she’s coming into our program in the SEC, and I think she wants to live up to those expectations that she’s put on herself.
“I appreciate the job Coach (Gerald) Ewing at Trinity Valley, Coach Lovato and her high school coach John Stroud have done developing her on and off the court. They have really helped that young lady become focused and committed in the classroom, and that is what she needed.”
Under his mentoring, Spears earned all-state honors three times while scoring 3,277 points and pulling down 2,149 rebounds in her prep career.
The three-time Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen selection was named Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal Player of the Year and first-team all-state following a stellar senior campaign that saw her average 30.6 points, 15.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 3.7 blocks in leading New Albany to a 19-7 record.
That standout final prep season earned her a place on Mississippi’s roster for the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Game. She was also tabbed for the MAC All-Star Game, earning defensive MVP honors after helping the North to a 74-62 win.
She claimed second-team all-state honors as a junior after averaging 28.6 points, 16 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.0 blocks.
A year earlier she earned first-team all-state accolades after averaging 17.2 points and 11.5 rebounds in leading the Bulldogs to the Mississippi Class 4A state title.
Zion Campbell — 6-3, C, Washington, D.C. (Riverdale Baptist School)
Campbell is an athletic, high-energy center who is prepping for her first season playing for Sam Caldwell at Riverdale Baptist School, one of the nation’s top high school programs, in Upper Marlboro, Md.
The Washington, D.C., product has claimed three stars from ESPN/HoopGurlz while ranking as the 17th-best player in the post.
“The biggest factor to me about Mississippi State was the family environment. Everyone was so nice, and they made me feel like it would be a place I would be comfortable for four years,” Campbell said. “Signing with Mississippi State means I’m part of a family. It’s going to be a great opportunity for me to expand my skills on the court, in academics and in life.”
Campbell saw early action with Riverdale, the defending national champions, in the preseason Rose Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y., scoring 14 points against the NJ Sparks.
“Mississippi State is getting an outstanding young lady who has a tremendous motor and runs the floor really well. She finishes with the right and left hands around the basket, and she is working on extending her shooting range now,” Caldwell said. “She’s also a shot blocker who has a tremendous upside. She will be a valuable piece to our program. You can see her getting better every week. She puts the work in, and I’m excited about the year she’s going to have.”
She made the move to Riverdale after playing for a St. John’s College High School squad that won the D.C. State Athletic Association championship.
Campbell’s play earned her honorable mention Washington Catholic All-Conference accolades.
“We like Zion’s build, and we really like her motor. We feel like she has a tremendous upside, but the thing that is really encouraging is she wants to get better,” Schaefer said. “I know she has a great high school coach in Sam Caldwell who is going to work her, demand of her and push her. I think she’s far from a finished product, even in high school.
“We feel like she’s going to be a really good player for us down the line, and the ability to go sign a young lady that can run the floor like a deer and has good hands is really exciting for us. It’s something we needed to add. We lose Martha (Alwal) this year and Sherise (Williams) next year, so we needed to add an SEC-type body and skill set at that position. We are really excited about what Zion brings to the table.”
She made the move to St. John’s from Hilton Head, S.C., where she was a standout at Hilton Head High School. As a sophomore she helped the Seahawks to an 18-8 overall record and the second round of the Class 3-A playoffs.
This year’s MSU edition opens the season by playing host to Mercer at 8 p.m. Friday in a first-round game of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
(From MSU Media Relations)