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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Sports

Sophomore standout Harris taking women’s basketball to unfamiliar heights


Sophomore Jasmyne Harris became the first Cougar to be named American Athletic Conference Player of the Week since the program moved to the conference. Her efforts have the women in third place in conference. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

Before sophomore guard Jasmyne “Jazz” Harris even stepped onto a basketball court, her journey started at a neighbor’s basketball goal in her apartment complex. She was only four years old.

Fast forward to her sophomore year of college, and Harris has revived a struggling women’s basketball program. The Cougars have already won 14 games this season. The past two years they won a combined 18 games. A large part of that has been Harris and her ability to score, and score often.

“We’re just taking more shots that I didn’t take last year, and my teammates are finding me open,” Harris said. “(It’s) my teammates trusting me with the ball to make shots and us playing great defense making it easier to score the basket.”

Harris leads the team in points per game (20.3) and total assists (69). In addition, Harris’ success on the court helped create a bit of history for herself. Harris became the first Cougar to be named American Athletic Conference Player of the Week since the team changed conferences. On Jan. 8, she received that title a second time.

Harris earned her latest award after a stretch averaging 30 points per game, including a 34 point effort against Tulane as part of a 21-point comeback win. She was even nationally recognized as she won espnW’s player of the week award.

It was during that Jan. 6 Tulane game that head coach Ronald Hughey saw how the efforts of Harris and her teammates had changed the team’s mentality.

“We said, ‘You need to make a decision’,” Hughey said. “‘Are we going to be the same team that always gets to a certain point and then continues to lose, or are we going to be a team that’s surpassed that and come out and win this basketball game?’ I think we kind of did some things to put them in position along the way, but it’s them, their competitive fire, their heart and determination. It’s all them.”

Harris committed to UH in the spring of 2016. The opportunity to play at the University of Houston allowed Harris to stay close to her family. Her hometown of Freeport is just under an hour away from the school.

The ultimate decider may have been Hughey’s efforts.

“Coach Hughey was recruiting me,” Harris said. “He gave some very good words about how me and the other players that were coming could change the program.”

Harris is achieving a level of success that is pushing the rest of the team to match her energy, and she has given the University of Houston a taste of having a star player once again.

So far, that fire has pushed the Cougars to a great record and a 3-2 start in conference play at press time.

Because of this, Hughey said he holds the sophomore’s play on the court and emotions off the court to high standards.

“She’s one of our most passionate kids,” Hughey said. “She’s a hell of a competitor. She’s a great kid, and she wants to do everything she can for her teammates.”

 

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