December 8, 2010 7:58:00 AM
College is meant to expand your horizons.
Jameika Hoskins thought she would begin that journey at Alcorn State. But the Aberdeen High School volleyball and basketball standout reconsidered her options and believed she could work to realize a goal to play at a higher level.
After taking a lot of time to think about her destination, Hoskins decided to stay close to home and to play basketball at Itawamba Community College.
The choice is paying dividends, as Hoskins'' game is maturing on both ends of the floor and the ICC women are off to a 7-2 start.
Hoskins, a 5-foot-10 guard, was averaging 13.1 points per game before a victory against Lawson State C.C. on Monday. But her biggest maturation has come on defense, where ICC coach Nanci Gray said Hoskins is picking up concepts and implementing them as quickly as possible.
"We are still working on things, but she brings a great court awareness and makes a lot of things happen positively," Gray said. "She is coachable and gaining an understanding of the game and developing into an entire player."
Many players aren''t finished products when they complete high school. Hoskins, The Dispatch''s 2010 Girls Player of the Year, was more of an offensive force at Aberdeen, averaging 21.7 points per game as a senior. She showed flashes of wanting to play defense, particularly when it came to getting into passing lanes to make deflections that forced turnovers and led to easy transition baskets.
But Hoskins is learning defense is more than that and that it is something she needs to play if she wants to see playing time.
"I have been doing pretty good, and there have been a few falls here and there on defense," Hoskins said. "Coach has been getting onto me about defense now and I am trying to work hard on that."
Hoskins said she is learning about how to defend on both sides of the ball and when and how she needs to help teammates. She said she tries to listen to everything Gray says so she can implement it in the next practice or in the next game.
So far, the results have been satisfying.
"She is beginning to understand helping in a team situation, guarding her player, and making her player do something she doesn''t want to do and into unfamiliar situations," Gray said. "She is understanding the concepts of man-to-man defense and her role in that."
Gray said Hoskins is like many standout players in high school in that she probably didn''t guard the opponent''s best ballhandler or scorer. As a result, she is learning on the floor how to fight through screens and how to defend scorers who can break players down off the dribble.
When those skills are refined, Gray is confident Hoskins will develop into an all-around player. She said Hoskins "brought a lot to the table" when she arrived in Fulton, and she is excited about how she will continue to improve, particularly as a shooter who can extend defenses out to the 3-point arc.
Hoskins said she is getting the majority of her points on drives and by being active on offense. She complements that with some transitions baskets off her defense, but she knows she needs to improve in that area and in her shooting if she is to realize her goal of playing at a higher level of Division I. She also hopes to do her best to help the sophomores on this year''s team advance deep into the postseason.
"I have seen bunch of improvement on the defensive end," Hoskins said. "In high school, defense wasn''t really a factor. It was a factor, but coach didn''t preach it as much. In college, you have to be able to play defense to stay on the floor. I have improved a pretty good bit, and I think I know more about it now than I did then; it is v important)
"I just want to get better and gain more attention from other schools. I want to make it to the next level, and I think I will be able to do that with a little more practice."
NOTE: ICC will host "Scout Appreciation Night" on Thursday when it takes on East Central C. C. All scouts and their leaders wearing their uniforms will receive free admission to the games. The Lady Indians will tip at 5:30 p.m., while the Indians will follow at 7:30 p.m.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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