FOLLOWING a 1,000-point career in high school, Jackson County’s Ashley Skelton has signed to play college basketball at Emmanuel, fulfilling a long-time goal.
Skelton said playing collegiately is something she’s been striving toward since childhood.
“I didn’t think it would be this big of a deal,” Skelton said. “Like, I didn’t think it would really happen. It was great, but I’m going to miss all the girls. I’ve been playing with them since second grade, so it’s going to be a big change.”
Skelton, who passed the career 1,000-point mark in December, averaged 14.88 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.2 steals per game for first-year coach John Hawley. She shot 40 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the free throw line.
“I only had Ashley for one year,” said Hawley, who just completed his first season as JCCHS girls’ coach. “All the things she’s done prior to this time has put her in that place, and we’re just really excited at the high school here and the basketball program to have a player go to the next level.”
Hawley pointed specifically to her leadership qualities during this past year’s 14-12 campaign.
“She was a great leader for us and had a great support role in the locker room,” Hawley said. “I sat down and talked with all of our kids at the end of the season, and I do a little evaluation and talked about the season and stuff and her name has always come up … They looked up to her as a player and as a person.”
Emmanuel coach Mike Bona said the Lady Lions were searching for a “guard-wing type player,” and Skelton fit the bill.
Skelton worked out with Emmanuel a few times and fit in well, according to Bona. The coach said Skelton could play two or three different positions for Emmanuel, noting that she’s strong enough to play inside, but also possesses a strong outside game.
“I think our style of play and the way she plays, I think, are going to fit really well,” Bona said. “So we’re really excited about her coming to Emmanuel. We think that she’s going to be a really, really good college player.”
Skelton considered Piedmont strongly before choosing Emmanuel. She pointed to Emmanuel’s high finish last year in Division I of the National Christian College Athletic Association – fourth – and the 35-minute driving distance from home as the deciding factors in picking the Lady Lions.
As for her game, Skelton said ball-handling is the biggest area she’ll be working on this summer as she makes the transition from high school to college.
“I pretty much played all positions here in high school, but you go up to college and there are going to be posts (that are) 6’3”, 6’4”, she said. “So I’ll have to work on ball skills and getting my shot a lot better.”