When Jaleesa Avery was in high school, she never thought about playing NCAA Division I basketball.
That all changed on Wednesday as the 6-foot-1 Western Nebraska Community College forward inked with Morehead State University in Kentucky to continue her playing days.
Avery said she was surprised to get Division I looks, considering she started playing basketball in the eighth grade.
“No, I didn’t think about going Division I in high school only because I started playing during my 8th-grade summer. I didn’t even think I was that good on my high school team,” she said. “It was kind of shocking for me.”
Avery is a testament that hard work pays off in going to the next level.
“My freshman year of college, I did way better than I thought I would,” Avery said. “This year I am still improving on things and I think I am ready to go to the next level.”
Last season, Avery averaged 12.5 points and 4.2 rebounds a game. This year is averaging seven points a game, but it is her potential and talent on the basketball court that impressed the Morehead coaches. Avery said she picked Morehead State because of many reasons
“I thought their style of play was similar to Western Nebraska’s and I thought I would be a good fit for their program,” she said. “I also thought the girls were welcoming and the coaches were great when I visited.”
Morehead State plays in the Ohio Valley Conference. Last season the Eagles finished 21-10 and lost in the WNIT to Middle Tennessee State.
Avery knows that she still has room to improve.
“I am happy to be going to the Division I level, but I know I still have work to do here and there,” she said. “So, I know I have to keep improving in all aspects of the game.”
This year Avery hopes the Cougars can win another championship, but it is more important to play together as a team.
“I think our goal is obviously to win regionals again and go back to nationals,” she said. “But really it is just to play together, be a team, and work on the little things that we need to and improve every day so we can be better.”
Next year Avery will be heading to Kentucky, and when she does, she will definitely miss her time at WNCC.
“I think I will miss my teammates the most and all my friends that I made here,” she said. “I will also miss playing at this great program and being here.”