PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry basketball and volleyball standout Gabi Jessup has signed with Meredith College.
The lone senior on both sports teams, Gabi will play basketball at the school in Raleigh.
Gabi was honorable mention for basketball as a sophomore, all-conference for basketball as a junior and received her first all-conference award for volleyball back in the fall.
As one of the leading players in the newly realigned Northwest Conference, Gabi is sure to receive another all-conference selection next week at the conference tournament final.
In addition to playing for the Lady Cardinals, Gabi has played with girls from the other local teams for the Surry Storm.
The Jessup family thanked East coach Keith Gunter as well as Storm coaches Alan Hiatt, Keith Seivers and David Barbour.
Playing for both teams has given Gabi a lot of exposure to Division III colleges, said Gunter. She has been talking about Meredith since last spring.
Gunter said he supplied some game footage to her parents, Greg and Tracey Jessup. Greg put together a highlight reel of Gabi playing to send off to universities and post online at a recruiting website. Seivers also helped with recruiting.
Asked what attributes Gabi brings to the game that would attract college scouts, Gunter said it is Gabi’s length and shooting touch.
The 5-foot-9 senior is one of the best 3-point shooters in all of 1A, and her height and long arms make it difficult for defenders to stop her from getting the shot off.
While not all teams report their stats online, among all the schools on MaxPreps, Gabi is leading the state 1A class in 3-pointers made with 63. That is 15 more than the next-closest girl.
Even more impressive is that she is 11th in 1A in accuracy, too, at 37 percent.
The Northwest Conference is rich in outside shooting. Also among the league leaders in makes and/or shooting percentage are teammate Sydney Mosley, Mount Airy’s Alex Atkins, Davi Barbour and Jasmine Varney and Bishop’s Tia Cappuccio.
Atkins and Barbour are just one percentage point ahead of Gabi at 38 percent, but because the Bears have a stable of fine outside shooters, teams can’t focus on stopping one shooter the way teams have keyed on Gabi this season.
Gabi’s shooting ability certainly caught the eye of Meredith head coach Melinda Campbell.
“All you have to do is look at our stats to see that we don’t have that,” she said. “We’re struggling from the 3-point line, and we know she can help with that.”
“I’ve been following her for a while,” said Campbell. “I could not be more pleased with her decision to come to Meredith.”
The coach said she saw Gabi play for the Storm team in a tournament more than a year ago and was impressed.
“She has been fundamentally prepared and well-coached,” Campbell said. “Traits that I’m looking for in a player for sure.”
Once she gets to college and has more practice time with the coaching staff, Gabi will blossom even more, said Gunter. School days are longer in high school, and she has split time with volleyball, so she will have more skill development at Meredith.
“She’s going to be a tremendous addition to the Meredith community in a lot of ways,” said the coach, calling Gabi a great player and great individual. “I always look for players who have high character and are goal-oriented.”
“From the minute she stepped on our campus, I felt like it was a good fit all the way around,” said Campbell. “She’s really excited for what we have to offer her academically.”
Gunter said that Gabi has shown an interest in occupational therapy and has been working with an autistic child at East Surry.
Gabi is a member of the National Honor Society and Technical Honor Society, noted mom Tracey.
She follows in the footsteps of Keri Fulp and Lauren Thompson last year. Not only were the girls starters for the team, the two were first and second in their class in GPA.
“They are students first, and that’s a great thing,” said Gunter. “The girls are ambitious and they want to make good grades.”
Players like Gabi, Keri and Lauren organize their time and put in the effort on studying, he said. That’s a testament to them and the faculty at East Surry that stresses academics first.
“We’re proud of her,” said Tracey. “We’ve been proud of her.”
Gabi plans to major in psychology at Meredith, earn her bachelor’s degree and then work on a master’s degree, said her mom.
While Division III schools don’t give out athletic scholarships, Gabi’s class performance will allow her to receive some academic monies to help offset the cost of attending.
“I’m proud of how hard Gabi has worked outside of scheduled basketball practice,” said dad Greg. “She’s become a really good shooter. She studies the game and understands how to play. She’s had a lot of good coaches to help her along the way.”
“As a father, I am extremely proud of her accomplishments on the court and in the classroom. She’s won various MVP awards, all-conference and National Honor Society. But I am most proud of her character and genuine concern for others, which led her to Meredith College’s distinguished autism progress, fulfilling her desire to make a difference in the lives of others.”
“She’s got a big heart, and she does want to do something good with her life,” said Tracey.