Thursday, May 7, 2009
Rachel Jones taking talents to Jackson St.
By BARRY BURLESON
Jason Thompson knows Rachel Jones well. He’s coached her since the sixth grade.
“She could play for any school at any level and hold her own,” said Thompson, head coach of the H.W. Byers Lady Lions. “Jackson State is getting a steal.”
Jones, the stellar point guard who led Byers to back-to-back Class 2A state championships, has signed with the JSU Lady Tigers.
“She’s the big reason why we’ve done what we’ve done,” Thompson said.
“This is a reward for her that I knew would come because of her skills and success. She will take the will and determination she had here, add to those and have the opportunity to blossom at the Division I college level, too.”
He said he has reminded her of another athlete, Walter Payton, who made a name for himself at Jackson State and beyond.
“He’s arguably the best to ever play the game (football),” Thompson said. “It’s all about effort and ability.
“I’m tickled pink to say I’ve coached her and helped build some talents she will take with her to Jackson State.”
Jones averaged 19 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals a game for Byers this past season. She has started on the varsity since the eighth grade. A host of honors include The Clarion-Ledger’s “Dandy Dozen” and a participant in the recent Alabama-Mississippi High School All-Star Game.
She is excited about going to JSU and playing for head coach Denise Taylor.
“Hopefully I can get in and make an immediate impact,” Jones said. “I’m happy to get to stay close to home and play.”
Jackson State is located about three and a half hours from H.W. Byers in the state’s capital city.
She said she will miss her high school teammates and Coach Thompson.
“I’ve been playing with them since the sixth grade,” she said, “but each year someone has to go.
“I won’t lose contact with Coach. He has helped me so much, and I’m so very thankful for that.”
Jones also excels in the classroom, and grades will remain a high priority.
“I’m a student before I’m an athlete,” she said. “I’m going to go to class and do my work.”
Her mother, Gladys Ware, agreed.
“I will make sure of that,” she said, smiling. “That’s a must.
“I’m so proud of her. I’ve always told her she can do anything she wants.
“I’m impressed with the coach at Jackson State. She said she will stay on top of their grades. I think it’s a good fit. I didn’t want her to go a long way off. She’s my baby, and I need to be able to get to her.
“I think she will do good there. She loves ball.”
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