Ashlon Jackson is the total package.
At 6-foot, the combo-guard can rebound, push the tempo, shoot the three, and sees the entire court to distribute. She's a student of the game and in the classroom. Jackson has a smile and personality as big as her game.
She's a mismatch at the high school level playing for state-power Hardin Jefferson, where she hopes to lead the Hawks to a UIL State Title.
In January, the Top 25 National Recruit as ranked by ESPN, committed to Duke. From the little town of Sour Lake, Texas to the epicenter of basketball.
"Honestly, I love the coaching staff," she said.
What's not to love as coach Kara Larson has taken over the Duke program after working as an assistant for the Boston Celtics, winning a WNBA Title, and being in three Final Fours at the University of Tennessee.
"You can't go wrong with Duke, right?" Jackson said. "It's tops in the country in sports and academics."
Jackson is currently leading her Hawks as they are undefeated and in the second round of the postseason. HJ fell in the state title game a year ago and has two state titles dating back to 1986 and 1989.
She's trying to leave her own legacy at the Southeast Texas school, however.
"I'm honestly trying to be great," she laughed. "I want to influence as many people as I can. I want to encourage young girls to try and do whatever comes to mind.
"Looking 10 years from now, I'd like to play some pro basketball and just be successful," she said.
She's well on her way.
Hardin Jefferson faces El Campo in the next round of the postseason as the Hawks are on a mission to close the deal with a state title.
HF is led by Jackson but has tremendous complementary parts in Molly Beavers, Rylee Wirth, and Kendall Sneed.
It's their biggest game of their season, but the Hardin-Jefferson Lady Hawks are on cruise-control.
Facing a feisty Rusk squad Friday night H-J head coach Mike Fogo noticed a calmness after their morning shoot-around.
"This is a real loose group to begin with," said Fogo at Sam Houston State's Johnson Coliseum. "They're bee-bopping around here just waiting for 8 pm to arrive."
The Lady Hawks are trying to get back to San Antonio to avenge last season's state final loss to Argyle, but first they have to get past a Rusk team that comes in with an underwhelming record of 17-12. The Rusk crew are riding a four-game win streak with playoff wins over Huntington (41-36), Lorena (41-36) and Gatesville (68-66).
"They have a real energetic coach (Bre Brooks) who has them playing at just the right time," said Fogo. "With a bunch of their games, they do what they have to do to be in the game at the end. If that means slowing down the game or playing iso (isolation) that's what she will do. We haven't seen a lot of teams adjust to us lately, but we feel pretty good with our matchups if it comes our way."
The H-J "Big Three" of Delbertha Guillory-Smith, Ashlon Jackson, and Makenna Henry should cause major headaches for Rusk along with Karliegh Hensley and Kassi Hardy rounding out a solid supporting cast.
Look for Rusk to stick close to the H-J machine early but dynasties never die young, Hardin-Jefferson will roll in the second half.
PREDICTION: Hardin-Jefferson takes a hammer to the Cinderella shoes of Rusk and pulls away late.
Hardin-Jefferson 67, Rusk 41.
Tonight's winner takes on the Yates vs Fairlield victor Saturday afternoon at 1 pm.
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