Mount Airy’s Jasmine Varney has picked Ferrum College to play basketball.
The senior class for the Lady Bears helped win 85 games the past four seasons, including a 21-6 record this year.
Head coach Howard Mayo has long talked about the quality of players in this area, and the number of girls being recruited by colleges bears that out.
In addition to Jasmine, Kathryn Beasley has signed with a school — albeit for volleyball instead of her rebounding prowess.
Fellow seniors Alex Atkins, Davi Barbour and Mikayla Seivers also have garnered college attention.
Bryan Harvey, Ferrum College head coach, said he discovered Jasmine while in town scouting out players from a local AAU team.
“I started watching kids from the area over the summer while watching the Surry Storm,” said Harvey.
“They were looking at Mikayla Seivers, and we were playing Surry Central at the time,” recalled Jasmine. “When he came to watch, he saw me play and it was like, ‘I want her.’ He wanted a shooter, and I’m excited and ready to play.”
Harvey also liked players from the county schools. Two more local girls have verbally committed to Ferrum; look for their official announcements in coming editions of The News.
“We’re excited,” Harvey said of landing Jasmine. “Coach Mayo has a great program in that area. … I really like the style of play. She comes from a winning program. The girls obviously are well coached. Getting those types of players are part of creating a winning culture.”
That culture is already in evidence at Ferrum.
In 2012, Harvey and the Lady Panthers wrapped up their season with 23 wins, the most in school history. They broke that mark in 2013 with 24 wins then went 27-3 this past season. The Panthers won their conference and made it to the third round of the D-III playoffs. USA Today ranked Ferrum 12th in the final D-III national poll of the season.
After the season, Harvey was named the Region 5 Coach of the Year and was one of eight finalists for the national D-III coach of the year award.
Harvey’s last four seasons have netted a stellar 92-23 overall record, 60-12 in the USA South.
Harvey said he likes to run a high-low motion offense, which needs outside scoring threats to open up space in the middle.
“There are not a lot of great shooters in the girls game,” he said, but “Jas is a great shooter.”
“Jasmine had a very good year for us,” said Coach Mayo. “There were several games where she shot the ball really well and rebounded the ball well.”
In mid-December, Jasmine had games against Atkins and Ashe County where she went 5 of 9 and 7 of 9 from 3-point range. The seven threes broke a team record for most in one game.
Over the season, she made 50 deep balls in 27 games.
As for her strengths, Jasmine didn’t first point out her shooting. Instead she said, “Probably looking for the open person. Making moves and being sure I make plays to benefit everybody. I’m going to take the shot if I have it.”
“I like shooting,” she admitted, but she wants to be a good teammate, too.
The Bears had a lot of talented pieces, and Jasmine was willing to do whatever the coach asked of her.
At the start of the season, Beasley missed nine games. Then when she got back in the lineup, Atkins missed three games.
“When Kathryn went down, Jasmine did several positive things for us,” said Mayo. “Jasmine’s work ethic, you’re talking about a lady who put in a lot of time on her own working on her strength and her jump shot.”
Over the first 13 games of the season, Jasmine averaged 11.8 points per game. Then when the full lineup was back together, she was willing to defer to her teammates and saw her average drop to 6.3 points over the last 14 games.
When asked to score, she did, noted Harvey. When asked to rebound or clamp down on defense, she did that, too. A coach wants players like that.
“Jasmine really worked on her own,” Mayo said of the extra hours she devoted to training.
During her junior year, Jasmine received the Lady Bear Award, which honors the player who puts in the most time in the weight room, open gym visits and team camp appearances.
As she grew and developed, Mayo said, “Her ability to catch the ball and take it to the hoop got better.” Her mid-range pull-up jumper also improved, too.
“Jasmine got better at realizing when she was open and when other people were open,” Mayo noted.
Jasmine was an honorable mention for the Northwest All-Conference Team in basketball, but also was an honorable mention for volleyball.
She was leaning toward going to Surry Community College and playing volleyball before Ferrum wooed her away.
“I want to play basketball, and I want to become a physical education teacher,” she said. As for Ferrum, she liked the size. “It’s small, and it’s close to home.”
“They have a really good environment. The coaches are really friendly. Coach Harvey, he’s all about teamwork and working hard and earning what you get. I believe that’s something in my values and something that needs to continue.”
While she is moving on to bigger and better things, Jasmine admits that one of her fondest memories was beating cross-town rival North Surry in triple overtime last fall.
“We all stepped up knowing Kathryn was out, and we all played a really good game.”
Jasmine had 15 points, four rebounds, three steals and an assist.
Teammate Ayano Shelton got the player of the game award from the coach, and Jasmine was perfectly content to do her part to help the team win. That’s an attitude that has Coach Harvey smiling.