April 14, 2010 11:39:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Some players are scorers.
Others can control a game cleaning the backboards or running the point.
While Shay Bonner possesses all of those skills, her ability to do a little more -- something many aren''t willing to do -- helped her realize a goal.
The Starkville High School senior girls basketball player''s penchant for diving on the floor for loose balls and getting into the passing lanes for steals are important elements to her game. Those qualities helped put Bonner in position Tuesday morning to sign a national letter of intent to play basketball at Itawamba Community College.
"I play very aggressive, probably too aggressive sometimes," Bonner said. "If a loose ball is on the floor, I like to get on the floor and get after it."
Bonner said she has learned to be aggressive by playing basketball with her sister, Kedesha Poe. She said she started playing basketball with her sister in the third grade, and that she also played with the boys, including Starkville High standout Edward Townsel. She said playing in the rough and tumble action rubbed off on her and has given her a valuable edge that allowed her to have "a day she will always remember" Tuesday.
"It is opening a new chapter in my life," Bonner said. "I believe in myself because I am dedicated and I work for what I want."
Bonner averaged 13.5 points and five rebounds and led the Yellow Jackets with two and a half steals per game this season. She also is a standout on the school''s track and field team. Last month, she ran first-place times of 16.58 seconds in the 100 hurdles and a personal-best time of 50.50 in the 300 hurdles at the Meridian High Invitational.
On the basketball court, Bonner said she takes the most pride in her defense. She said she has floor burns on her back and on her shoulders and bruises on her legs and on her knees to help her remember this season with the Lady Jackets.
Starkville High School girls basketball coach Kristie Williams said Bonner has matured as a player and as a young woman since she joined the program in seventh grade. She feels Bonner has the same potential to make similar strides at ICC.
"Shay has always been that go-getter type of player," Williams said. "She has always been the hustler who has gotten loose balls. I told people many times you probably saw her on the floor more than you saw her shooting the basketball because she was always the one who wanted to get the basketball."
Williams said Bonner has a complete package of skills and a great attitude. She said Bonner developed shooting range to 3-point territory to make her even more versatile.
"Her effort to always want to better (will help her succeed at ICC)," Williams said. "She is one of those players who comes up to you after the game and says, ''Coach, what can I do better to improve for the next game?'' I think her maturity level more than anything else has impacted her play on the court."
Bonner will get a chance to elevate her basketball skills even more at ICC. She said she talked recently with former Starkville High and ICC (2007-09) standout Courtney Cannon, who is now at Campbell University, a Division I school in Buies Creek, N.C. Bonner said Cannon, a NJCAA Academic All-American and an All-State and Region 23 All-Tournament team performer at ICC, advised her about ICC and helped her make her decision.
Bonner is the sixth member of ICC''s signing class. She joins Jameika Hoskins (Aberdeen), Amber Jackson (Tupelo), Vechatita "Mookie" Bonner (Class 5A state champion Wayne County), Jamesha Watkins (Class 3A Alabama state champion Sumter County), and Antria Anderson (Hattiesburg).
ICC coach Nanci Gray mentioned Cannon when describing why she wanted to add Bonner to her program. She said she knows she is getting a player in Bonner who has received quality coaching and who will be able to contribute at the next level.
"I love Shay''s tenacity and her defensive ability," Gray said. "I just ike so much about her. She is a competitor, and that''s what you''re looking for at the next level."
Gray said Bonner likely will see time at shooting guard and small forward. She said Bonner will have to adjust to a quicker, full-court game in college, but she feels Bonner will be able to make the transition.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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