Sanders season Golden

Published 9:56 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2007

By By Matthew Nascone
Jasmine Sanders will be changing her colors when her freshman year in college rolls around. Sanders, a standout on the basketball court at Escambia County High School, will be attending college in Hattiesburg, Miss. next year.
She made her choice to attend the University of Southern Mississippi with a verbal commitment to continue her basketball career at the NCAA Division I level in 2007-08.
"It feels great and I had a chance to go see the campus and the coliseum," Sanders said. "And I really enjoyed the trip and getting to know the players and coaches. I am really excited about starting school there next fall."
Sanders took a visit to Southern Miss on Sunday and met the Golden Eagles head coach, Joye Lee-McNelis. She then went out and hung out with some of the USM players and other recruits.
"I had a get together with some of the other recruits," Sanders said. "Then some of the players took us out for a movie. And we had a bunch of meetings with people like the athletic director and the academic counselor to go over a few things. Then (on Monday night) we attended their sports banquet for the 2006-07 season and it was an overall great experience."
Sanders and her coaches believe the hard work and dedication she put into the season paid off in the end.
"I worked as hard as I could all season because I knew it would take hard work to get to this point," Sanders said. "I thank coach Reynolds and coach Casaday for all the hard work they put in to get me this far."
ECHS head coach Todd Reynolds said he got to ECHS one year too late.
"I wish I would have gotten here a year earlier so I could have had Jasmine and these other seniors one more year," Reynolds said. "But I was glad to have her at least one year and I am extremely proud of what she has accomplished. I hope she continues to succeed at the next level. She is her only limit and she knows that hard work pays off. I look forward to seeing her accomplish things at the next level."
Reynolds' assistant, William Casaday, also had nothing but good things to say about Sanders.
"She really rose up when the pressure was on," Casaday said. "And it seemed like when the pressure was on, she played even better. The bigger the game was, the better Jasmine was. And I am so proud of her for persevering and working hard all season."
Casaday said the big-time schools like Southern Miss did not see Sanders often, but she took advantage of her time in the spotlight.
"We did not play in that many big tournaments, but when we got to Regionals at the end of the year, Jasmine did her thing when she needed to," Casaday said. "She had a huge game against Dadeville (in the opening round of the AHSAA Class 4A South Regional Tournament in Troy). She had the best possible game at the best possible time to be noticed."
And the coaches on the court are not the only people who help an athlete succeed. The will and determination to continue on can likely be found off the court and in the home.
"My grandparents and my parents have helped me a lot through the years," Sanders said. "They allowed me to start playing the sport. They have come to all the games they can and it was great to see them in the stands."
Ida and John Sanders, Jasmine's grandparents, attended every home game the Lady Blue Devils played since 2003 when Jasmine was a freshman. And her mother and stepfather, Connie and Timothy Craft have been at every game they could attend without missing work.
USM head coach Joye Lee-McNelis is not able to comment on the commitment of Sanders until National Spring Signing Day. National Spring Signing Day is April 11 and Sanders will sign the scholarship to become a Golden Eagle alongside fellow seniors Ashanti Jones and Ashley Kidd, who will choose between the two schools they are considering attending.
Sanders finished the season with 447 total points, 435 total rebounds, 128 assists, 110 steals, 133 blocks, 22 double-doubles and seven triple-doubles. She averaged a double-double per game at 13.1 points per game and 12.8 rebounds per game.

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