She reminds me an awful lot of Jamelle Elliott, in that there are people that come along in your life that you know you can trust, beyond a shadow of a doubt. They don't always show it on the court, early on, or they may struggle at times. But Asjha has an inherent trustworthiness that is just so important to a coach. I don't think there's any more of a tribute that a coach can pay a player than, `I can trust you.' More than anything, we've been able to trust Asjha for four years.
I think people wanted Asjha to be on their timetable, rather than her timetable. That's not where she saw herself. She's one of these people that wants to be counted on, but isn't looking to impose herself and say, `Look, I'm going to be able to do everything you want me to do.' I think early on, I think it was more important for her to just be able to do what was needed. And because we had so many other great players on our team, she wasn't in that position to have to do all those things. So, the reason why she's doing them this season is because we have to have them. And she knows that, and now she's comfortable with doing it.
I think people are intimidated by Asjha. She doesn't say a lot. There's a sense of mystery to her.
She just kind of looks at you, and she seems bigger than she is. She's not like, `Hey man, what's going on, how have you been.' Uh-uh. You're not getting any of that from Asjha. You've got to look up to her and hope she speaks to you. She kind of has that over you all the time. But then once you get to know her, she's the most fun kid around. She's the one I can pick on the most, probably.
Something happened to Asjha during practice one day. She twisted her ankle. She left, went to the training room and came back. So she's in there, pass-score, pass-score, pass-score. So finally, she just walks off. We're making a change and I said, `Jessica, get Asjha, she needs a breather. She doesn't feel like practicing anymore. Ticks me off, too. Every day I've got to worry if she's gonna practice or not.'
Now, that's the first time in four years that kid has ever missed practice. So I'm busting her about it, and she goes, `I scored every time I touched it. I don't need to practice.'
And the kids just cracked up. We were just laughing. That's something you'd expect to hear from Swin or Tamika, some smart comeback. With Asjha, it's just matter of fact. You've got to love her.
Anybody that plays college basketball is given the term `student-athlete.' Mainly because they're enrolled as a student and they have athletic ability. Asjha, though, is a true student, and not just because she goes to class and because she gets good grades. Asjha is a thinker. She studies not just her classes. She studies life. And she has a unique outlook that is very personal to her and doesn't feel a need to share it with just anybody. She doesn't see herself as, `If I play well on the basketball court, then I must be a good person.'
Her identity is not tied into what kind of player she is, or what her grades are. She understands that learning, and acquiring knowledge in every area are the reasons why she's in college.
I can see her being a great pro player. No question. She's been very durable. She shows up every day. She catches, she makes the right pass, she handles the ball. She's developed a three-point shot, she's become a pretty decent passer, she's always been one of our best defenders. She's rebounding more. I really like what she's done.
And she has the body type already to fit a particular position in the pros. There's no `Well, she's not big enough to be a four. She doesn't handle the ball well enough to be a three.' She has a definite position. She's a power forward in the pros. And I think that gives her a huge advantage over a lot of kids coming out.
I think we'll look back and I think our program is recognized for having a sense of maturity. It's like when you pull up to a magnificent estate, there's always a sense that you're coming to a place that's pretty special and it's strong and it has a great foundation. And usually it's made out of rock. Usually there's some sort of statue out front that symbolizes what's inside. And I think that's what she's been for our program.