Lady Coogs' little player
a big asset
By Crystal J. Doucette
Daily Cougar Staff
I don't know if they'll let a girl play.
Those words helped spark a career on the
hardwood for one little girl from Baton Rouge, La.
There have been many who doubted Jessica
Shanklin's ability to handle the rock, but her love for sports, her tenacity
and her stats are a testimony to her talent.
Her first love was gymnastics, but after
her mentors left Louisiana she was introduced to league basketball through
the Recreation and Park Commission for the parish of East Baton Rouge.
"I was the only girl in the BREC league,"
Shanklin said. "I had a lot of people who doubted me, thought I couldn't
play. I wound up starting for the first game and kept it up."
Senior point guard Jessica
Shanklin is enjoying a winning season to close out her collegiate career.
Cougar File Photo
Shanklin graduated in 1997 from McKinley
High School in Baton Rouge, La., with All-District and All-State honors
in basketball. She also competed in track and volleyball.
"I'm a sports fanatic," Shanklin noted.
The quick guard headed to Pearl River Junior
College in Poplarville, Miss., where she earned NJCAA honorable mention
All-American honors and was named First Team All-State and All-Region 23.
Shanklin's performance on the court with
the Lady Cougars has been solid. In her first year in Division I ball as
a junior transfer, she was the starting point guard in every Conference
USA game for UH.
This season, after taking a back seat to
freshman Chandi Jones earlier in competition, Shanklin leads the league
in assist-turnover ratio in Conference USA play. A threat from outside
the arc, she also finished the regular season ranked third in three-point
baskets per game (2.06). She hit a career-high seven against Detroit-Mercy
for 27 points Dec. 19.
The 5-5 senior point grabbed 11 rebounds
against Memphis on Saturday in the Lady Cougars' first quarterfinal victory,
80-74, in the C-USA Tournament. Shanklin posted a double-double in the
contest with 10 assists. She followed with seven assists and 19 points
against Tulane in the semifinal loss, 78-74, on Monday.
Shanklin, a psychology major, is set on
finishing her degree. Her mother, Janice Shanklin, is retiring after 40
years of teaching. She also has a 17-year-old sister who will be graduating
As for pro competition, Shanklin hopes
to get a trial to play in the WNBA or one of the European leagues.
"I'm just 21. I have a lot of life to go
and I'm not in a rush for anything," Shanklin said. "I'm happy with what
I've accomplished so far and I take that in stride."
What about the postseason?
"We're looking forward to going to the
NCAA tournament," she said.