Jayla Smith is the fourth Labette Cardinals player to be named NJCAA Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Team in the last four years.
The NJCAA WBCA released its list of all-stars this week. Traditionally, the honorees compete in a two-day All-Star showcase of games that draws the eyes of four-year recruiters. But that game has been canceled for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
5⃣0⃣ student-athletes across all three divisionsThe @NJCAA Women's Basketball Coaches Association announces the 2020 All-Star roster.📰https://t.co/bm7PXexXTy #NJCAABasketball | #NJCAAwbb pic.twitter.com/ON5Gvmgo3F— NJCAA Basketball (@NJCAABasketball) June 23, 2020
“I was very happy for her. She definitely deserves the honor,” Labette Head Coach Mitch Rolls said. “I’m just glad she got it. Unfortunately they don’t get to play. But it’s great to be nominated as one of the top freshmen in the country. That gives us some good publicity going into her sophomore year.”
Smith, a freshman last year from Detroit, averaged 9.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. She shot 41.6% from the field.
“She’s just an all-around player,” Rolls said. “She’s our best defender on the wing, rebounds really well and nearly averaged double figures in scoring. She can do it all. There’s not a lot you can say bad about her game. She even won most of the jump balls. She’s a special talent.”
Smith reached double-figure scoring in 11 games last year, registering a season-high 17 points in a road win over nationally-ranked Johnson County. Five of her 11 double-figure games came against ranked or Division I opponents.
Smith was also named to the All-KJCCC Third Team.
Labette has had a rising sophomore named to the All-Star team four years in a row now — DeAshia Young (2017), Upe Atosu (2018), Jessica Martino (2019) and Smith.
“It shows we’re signing good freshmen that are ready to play and implant themselves on the national scene,” Rolls said. “It started with DeAshia. We’ve got great freshmen and it speaks to the recruiting class as a whole.”
While Smith won’t get the same opportunity to put her talents on display among her fellow all-stars in front of four-year recruiters this summer, Rolls said the guard already has offers she’s looking to build upon next season.
“She’s had a couple of offers,” Rolls said. “We need to wait and see if they stand. There were teams that wanted her for 2021. I think it’s a given she’ll get some good Division I offers. She needs to take the next step and get a Power Five offer. She can play multiple positions and doesn’t have a weakness on the floor. She’d be a great addition to any Division I program.”
Smith will be one of just a handful of returning players on a Labette team that won the KJCCC, Region VI Tournament and qualified for the national tournament in 2019-20.
“It’s going to be the same role for her,” Rolls said. “The ball will be in her hands a little more. For her, it’s a redemption season. She wasn’t happy with just getting Third Team All-KJCCC and didn’t make the region team. Hopefully that makes her work a little harder this summer and fall.”
2020 NJCAA WBCA ALL-STARS
Leilani Augmon, Seward
Kayla Byrne, Lake Region State
Eliana Cabral, New Mexico
Savanna Collins, North Arkansas
Shardajah Collins, Massasoit
Aleisha Curry, Santa Fe
Karmelah Dean, Southern Idaho
Alaina Forbes, Niagara
Ebony Gayden, Jones
Ayanna Gibbs, Illinois Central
Rashauna Grant, Cape Fear
Alexis Grice, Frank Phillips
Sharay Hannah, Hostos
De’Ja Henson, Wayne County
Tatiana Hodges-Johnson, Kirkwood
Jada Hood, Kilgore
Sammiyah Hoskin, Wayne County
Tianna Johnson, Seward
Kobe King-Hawea, Gillette
Sheslanie Laureano, Florida Southwestern State
Hannah Malcomson, Rock Valley
Alise Markova, Miami Date
Thaniya Marks, Shelton State
Sarah Matthews, Kilgore
Niya McGuire, Tyler
Allison Moore, John Wood
Canton Moreno, Frank Phillips
Naziah Morrow, Miami Dade
Tamara Nard, Butler
Jordyn Neal, Pensacola State
Polina Nikulochkina, Tallahassee
Ana Nikulochkina, Tallahassee
Ashley Orozco, Dawson
Kayla Payne, Cedar Valley
La’Janique Perry-Ellis, Bryant & Stratton
Tai’sheka Porchia, Angelina
Alexandria Shishkina, Georgia Highlands
Awa Sidibe, Salt Lake
Allison Siefering, Edison State
Femme Sikuzani, South Georgia Tech
Jayla Smith, Labette
Alaijah Stewart, Murray State
Jazmyn Turner, Wabash Valley
Lovietta Walker, Angelina
Diamonique Wallace, South Suburban
Lavender Ward, North Country
Alona Washington, LSU-Eunice
Kianni Westbrook, Daytona State
Deja Williams, Eastern Oklahoma State
Jiselle Woodson, Wallace State-Hanceville