As a child, junior forward Jasmine Jones’ primary sport was not basketball, but rather cheerleading. Eventually, her competitive nature drew her away from cheer and to the hardwood. In her mind, this change was inevitable.
“In cheer, I just didn’t feel [the competition],” she said. “But I loved the energy in basketball. I loved competing every day [and] working hard.”
It’s clear that Jones’ competitiveness runs in her family. Her father was a college football player and she followed suit in pursuing sports.
“We’re just an athletic family,” she said. “I was meant to do something with sports.”
Her father was directly involved in her early athletic career, practicing and watching game film with her. He has continued his support throughout her career, including her time at two different high schools, West High School in Torrance and Long Beach Polytechnic. At the end of her first season with Long Beach in 2016, she earned a variety of accolades. Doing so after transferring to a new school was a feat she was particularly proud of.
“Coming from one league to another and then impacting that school … that’s probably the biggest [accomplishment],” she said. “Being able to play with new people, being able to take on another role.”
Jones performed well at both high schools and soon was being recruited by a number of colleges. The majority of the schools attempting to woo her were larger California public schools, but she appreciated the smaller size of LMU and the dedication of the coaching staff.
“The coaching staff here, when they [recruited] me, they were always calling,” she said. “They were always checking in on me [and] my family. You felt the family atmosphere of them wanting you and you want to feel wanted as a player.”
Once she arrived at LMU, Jones got comfortable within the basketball program by connecting with various teammates she had already played with, including her former high school teammate, senior guard Cierra Belvin. Those bonds helped Jones adjust to the college style of play.
“The game is a lot faster from high school to college, so just getting used to that was hard,” she said. “Freshman year is the hardest year, because you’re learning a new system. You’re learning how to play with new people … I was 18 playing against 22-year-olds, so of course that’s hard.”
Her freshman year served as an adjustment period both on and off the court. Jones’ numbers vastly improved the following season, as she averaged 12.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while consistently starting and emerging as one of the most reliable players for the Lions. The team as a whole also had a strong year, reaching the WNIT for their first postseason tournament appearance since 2004. Jones believes that the team’s success was driven by their desire to win.
Now that two years have passed in her college career, she is used to the competition of Division I basketball and realizes that she has to bring out her competitive side whenever she plays.
“You have to work for every single game,” she said. “Every game is a dogfight. Every game is a different battle. Every game you have to come ready to play. You can’t expect to win.”
Jones spent the past offseason working primarily on her shooting, both from the free-throw line and from the field. Prior to the season opener against UCLA, when discussing keys to the season, Jones once again went back to the message of competitiveness.
“We just have to compete,” she said. “Just play hard [and] play as a team.”
Jones led the way against UCLA with a team-high 12 points, but the Lions fell 74-52. However, the season is just getting started and Jones is optimistic about the team’s capabilities.
“We have a lot of potential, but we also have to fight and I think that we can do that,” she said. “And we’ve just got to have fun playing.”