Even though they don’t fall within our coverage area, I feel the need to congratulate Murrah’s LaSondra Barrett and East Oktibbeha’s April Sykes for being named to the McDonald’s All-American team. Both of these young ladies played in the Grand Slam last year in Tupelo, and both have a great shot at returning. Barrett will be in town Friday for Murrah’s Friday’s North half second-round game against Tupelo.
I’ve seen Sykes more than I’ve seen Barrett, and it’s easy to see why the former is the No. 2-rated player in the country, according to hoopgurlz.com. I’ve only seen one other player in my time who can compare to her. It’s no one you’ve heard of.
When I was working in Lumberton, N.C. (2000-02), a player at Lumberton High named Missy Jones was one of those girls who moved like a guy. Just silky smooth when she ran, when she dribbled, when she shot. In fact, I’d venture to say she was perhaps a little better than Sykes.
Sykes has better moves off the dribble, but Jones had a great outside shot and had more of an inside game than Sykes has. Being from the poorest county in the state, Jones also had a lot of grit. She had to wear a mask once after breaking her nose, but she shed it during a game because it bugged her. Tough.
But, I’m not a professional talent evaluator, so maybe I’m wrong (or subconsciously biased, since I saw Jones play so often). Last I heard from her, Jones was supposed to play at Norfolk State, but I believe her grades short-circuited her career. Hopefully, we’ll see Barrett and Sykes playing for years to come.
Interesting side note: Jones’ teammate, Billie McDowell, was named the state co-player of the year in 2001 and went on to play at N.C. State. Jones was named conference player of the year in 2002.