Athlete of the Month: JCA's Lumpkin Has Game to Go with Nickname(s)

Joliet Catholic Academy's Jasmine Lumpkin beats opponents with an explosive first step and uses her size to dominate under the basket.

She is called “Jazzy” which rhymes with “Snazzy” and speaks to the way she plays the game.

Joliet Catholic Academy’s Jasmine Lumpkin answers to a handful of nicknames these days when she steps on the court for the Angels’ girls basketball team or cuts and weaves her way through the crowded hallways at school.

Joliet Catholic Academy coach Ed Schodrof calls her “Stretch” because she has a long, athletic body and is capable of stretching the defense with her explosive first step. Her favorite nickname, though, is “Smoothie” and it is has nothing to do with basketball.

“I like ‘Smoothie,’ ” Lumpkin said, a grin crossing her face. “I think I have a smoothie almost everyday of the week. It’s my favorite thing to drink. I can’t live without them. I just get the strawberry/banana smoothie, nothing else. I can do homemade, but I normally buy them from somewhere because I don’t have time to make them.”

Lumpkin, a 6-foot junior forward, is preoccupied with basketball games, practice sessions and her studies. She is a 3.6 student and hopes to become a pediatrician or physical therapist. For now, she’ll settle for being called by another name: Joliet Patch Athlete of the Month for December.

One of Lumpkin’s finest moments came during a breakthrough victory for the Angels (14-2). She scored 19 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in a 73-70 win over perennial powerhouse Fenwick on Dec. 12, a win that sent shock waves around the East Suburban Catholic Conference.

After the game, Schodrof spotted Lumpkin crying. When he approached her to ask why, she responded, “Because I played a terrible first half.”

Perfectionist might soon be her next nickname.

Lumpkin, a transfer from Montini, has elevated JCA to new heights during her short stint in the program. Through 15 games, she was averaging 17.9 points and 11.5 rebounds. And her Angels—despite a 56-44 loss to Marian Catholic on Tuesday—were more and more often winning the public awareness battle and landing upright in the Who’s Who world of high school girls basketball.

Still, she rarely is satisfied with her own numbers.

“I think the one thing she is working on to improve is her jump shot,” Schodrof said. “She would tell anybody that. I think it’s getting better. She’s shooting at the top of her jump more and it’s getting better and better as the days go on.

“So, that’s the one thing she’s gaining confidence on. And, then, finishing around the basket technique-wise and swinging the ball to her chin to maintain balance. She’s so fast and she’s so tall sometimes she gets going a little too fast.”

Some would call her “Speedy” and they would not be far off the mark.

“In terms of some of the other things that are assets of hers—her length and her speed combination is real hard to deal with for a lot of people in the open court and in the half-court,” Schodrof said. “She poses very unique problems because of the height/speed combination that she has. That’s been a huge asset to the program.”

What some don’t know is this: Lumpkin played point guard as a youngster and, again, when she first started with her AAU team, the Bolingbrook Panthers.

“I think that was in sixth grade,” Lumpkin said. “I was a lot shorter. Then, by eighth grade and my freshman year, I just shot up. I knew how to handle the ball a little bit better than some of the other big girls. So, now I just use my dribbling skills and my height.”

She can beat a defense by herself. And the college scouts have noticed.

Lumpkin already is attracting interest from a number of Division I schools. She is in no hurry to make a choice.

“My family is behind my whole decision,” she said. “I’m still going around and visiting colleges. There are a lot of great things I like about each school I’m visiting. So, I’m just going to take my time with that and really narrow down my list to the important things when it comes to the colleges.”

One thing is a given: In the cafeteria, she’ll be looking for a smoothie machine.

Previous Athlete of the Month Winners

SEPTEMBER: JT Central's Singletary is Patch Athlete of the Month

OCTOBER: JCA's Blotnik Charges to Head of the Pack

NOVEMBER: Ivlow Rushes To JCA Football Rescue










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