‘Once in a lifetime’ player – GIRLS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: JAZMINE SPEARS, NEW ALBANY

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

Jazmine Spears doesn’t mind being told she “plays like a boy” on the basketball court.
New Albany’s 5-foot-11 senior guard/forward has heard it all her life from friends, family, coaches and from the guys she has played against.
“I grew up playing against boys,” she said, then smiled. “There are all boys in my family, so when they play ball I’m right out there with them.
“I think playing against boys makes you tougher. That’s how I got to where I am today.”
Spears, the Daily Journal’s 2012-13 Player of the Year in girls basketball, averaged 30.4 points, 15.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists 3.5 steals and 3.7 blocks per game this season for the 19-7 Lady Bulldogs. She scored a career-high 47 points this season against Scott Central.
A starter since the eighth grade, she averaged 21.7 points and 14.1 rebounds per game during her career.
During her tenure, the Lady Bulldogs posted a 121-30 record and won a state championship in 2011.
“Jazmine is one of those players who come along once in a lifetime,” New Albany coach John Stroud said. “She has all that talent. She has great basketball sense and court awareness. She’s a coach on the floor.
“She’s a winner, too.”
Spears has committed to Mississippi State, where she will likely play one of two forward positions.
“She’s so strong and has good offensive skills,” Stroud said. “I think passing is one of her strengths. She loves to pass the ball.
“She has skills a lot of high school players don’t have. Very few players can guard her one-on-one. It’s amazing that she compiled those numbers when everyone knew who the ball was going to.”
The last two seasons have been frustrating at times because Spears had to do most of the work. This year’s team lost in the North state tournament.
“I wanted to go out with a bang and win state,” she said. “Now, it’s time for me to move on.”
It’s been a long journey, but Spears enjoyed it all. She remembers starting her first game for the varsity team as an eighth grader.
“I was scared,” she said. “I was scared I wouldn’t fit in. Eventually, I got the hang of it.”
That goes without saying.
gene.phelps@journalinc.com
Spears Favorites
Sport, other than hoops: NFL
TV Show: Family Guy
Music: Hip-hop
Food: Hot wings
Athlete: Dwight Howard
Pro Team: Lakers
Hoops shoe: Air Jordan