By ROBIN FAMBROUGH
Written for the LSWA
Jerkaila Jordan is no overnight success story. The John Curtis star has always had the ability to score in a variety of ways – including an NBA-like Euro Step move in the lane.
Jordan’s willingness to step out of her comfort zone propelled the Patriots to a fourth straight Division I select title and elevated her game to a elite level. How elite? Impressive enough to claim the Louisiana Farm Bureau/Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s prestigious Miss Basketball award.
“Obviously, I’m biased because she is my player and I’ve watched Jerkaila grow up,” Curtis coach Barbara Farris said. “But I truly believe she is on that same level with the with the great players we’ve seen in Louisiana, like Kalani Brown (Cara) Moon Ursin.
“What she did for us this year with a young team was amazing. She improved her game and did things we had never asked her to do, like bring the ball down court. And her leadership with a team of babies –young girls who had never played varsity basketball -- was every bit as impressive and important.”
The 5-foot-9 Tulane signee has been a go-to player for Curtis for four years and is a three-time LSWA all-state selection in Class 5A. Jordan averaged 23 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.3 blocked shots per game.
“I knew this was going to be a different year for me,” Jordan said. “Before this year, I was the younger player who looked up to the seniors. I don’t talk a lot, but I knew it was important for me to get to know all the young players. We couldn’t be successful unless we got the best from everybody.”
Instead of eating lunch with the seniors, Jordan spent her lunch periods with teammates who were eighth-graders and freshmen, including her younger sister, Heaven. That may have raised a few eyebrows among her older peers, but Jordan got to see the world and basketball through her younger teammate’s eyes.
“She wasn’t just the senior, or a captain … she built relationships with each girl on the team,” Farris explained. “Because of that she could get the best out of every other player. I’m loud and I get after them. Jerkaila could translate for me.”
When told of Farris’ comments, Jordan said, “I would soften it and break it down for them (teammates). I would tell them she (Farris) means no harm … she wants you to get better.”
Jordan got better too. She had played the post position for much of her career. Last summer, Jordan played point guard for her Texas-based AAU team. She honed her ball-handling skills and extended her shooting range to beyond the 3-point arc.
“You could see how her game grew last summer,” Ursuline coach Kris Goff said. “Jerkaila has always been athletic and that Euro Step she has is incredible. But you add in the ball-handling and the shooting range and you have a player who should be able to play right away in college.”
For Jordan, improving her skills also was a means to an end.
“I did improve my ballhandling and my shooting,” Jordan said. “Winning was the most important thing for me.”