Originally Published: Feb 11, 2010 7:5 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Reporter
JENKS, Oklahoma -- Jenks girls’ basketball coach Rhonda Fields has been around great athletes all her life. She played college hoops in Stillwater, raised a major league baseball player and has coached basketball for nearly 30 years. She knows talent when she sees it.
That’s what makes her impression of Lady Trojans freshman guard Jessica Washington so unique. Her answer to a ‘best freshman you’ve ever seen?’ prompt, left little doubt about Washington’s talents.
“Skills wise, yes. Her skill level is probably the thing that jumps out at everyone,” Fields said before practice on Thursday. “What she is able to do as a 14-year-old is pretty incredible.”
Barely into her teen years, the freshman phenom already controls the Lady Trojans’ offense. Her 28 point performance against Broken Arrow Tuesday night, two points shy of the goal she set for herself before the game, led Jenks back from a second half hole to win by 10. She scored 14 of her points in the fourth quarter.
“I just said to myself, ‘We’re not losing to Broken Arrow’, and I just kind of got my team together,” said Washington. “I felt like I couldn’t miss.”
Eye-popping performances have become commonplace in the Frank Herald Gymnasium. Washington chipped in eight rebounds and five assists as well against the Lady Tigers, proving she’s more than just a scorer.
“She’s a pressure player. She rallies the troops,” said Fields. “It says a lot about her, too, that the other girls have turned to her as a leader also.”
“It feels good to know that you had a really good game and you scored a lot of points, and helped your team,” said Washington.
Fields calls her a “gym rat” and says Washington puts in extra hours after practice almost daily. Washington learned the game from her father, Travis, who played college hoops at the University of Southern Colorado in the early 1990s.
“The game comes pretty naturally for her,” said Travis, who is also an assistant coach with the Lady Trojans. “If she has that passion for it, which I think she does right now, I think she can have a great future in the sport.”
Washington says having her dad there at practice helps her succeed.
“I was always at the gym with him,” smiled Washington.
Earlier this year, Washington scored 16 and 14 points on back-to-back nights to help Jenks claim the 2010 Jenks/Union Invitational. Washington was named the tournament MVP. The Lady Trojans have six state championship trophies on display just outside the gym doors, and Washington hopes a seventh gold ball is on the horizon.
“Winning a state title, going to the finals and winning and getting that gold ball,” smiled Washington.
“The sky’s the limit,” said Fields.