The senior guard is the all-time team leader in points scored and has guided UW to a 20-win season and to the cusp of the program’s first NCAA berth since 2007.
Jazmine Davis knows a key to her success is hard to believe.
The three-time all-Pac-12 player and Kelsey Plum are similar electric scorers who form perhaps the best backcourt in Washington women’s basketball history. Toss Talia Walton in the mix, and the Huskies have offensive power to envy.
The thought can be that having multiple pure scorers in a starting lineup doesn’t work. Someone will worry about not getting enough touches.
USC @ UW women, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Networks
Thanks to Davis’ leadership and selflessness, that has not been an issue with the Huskies.
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Davis, a 5-foot-7 senior guard, enters her final regular-season homestand as the Huskies’ all-time leader in points scored (2,188), knowing that Plum will eventually overtake every record Davis has set. And that achieving the goals Davis set as a freshman is because Walton, a 6-2 forward, has fought through knee injuries to become the team’s most efficient offensive player this season.
“We deeply understand that you can score all of the points in the world, it doesn’t matter if you don’t win,” said Davis, who’s averaging a career-low 15.6 points. Plum is sixth in the nation in scoring (22.9 per game) while Walton is shooting a career-high 47.7 percent from the field.
“We never talk about, ‘Oh, I need 10 more points,’ ” Davis continued. “The questions we ask are, ‘Hey, do you think you can hit this three right now?’ Or, ‘Do you think you can drop her and get this layup right now?’ I know it sounds crazy, but it works.”
When Davis arrived from San Jose, Calif., the Huskies were coming off a fourth straight losing season and had just fired coach Tia Jackson, who recruited Davis, fellow senior Aminah Williams and Walton. But the promising faces decided to stay and be the players to return UW to its glory days.
Despite having two coaches and Walton’s knee injuries, Davis is on the cusp of reaching those goals. A win against USC on Thursday seals fifth place in the conference standings for Washington (20-8, 9-7 Pac-12). A fourth consecutive 20-win season, an RPI of 29 and two wins against top-10 teams should snag UW’s first NCAA tournament berth since 2007.
“What I like about it was we stuck together,” Davis said. “Nobody left. We said ‘Hey, we came in together, we’re going down together and we’re going up together. As long as we stay together, we’ll be fine.’”
Davis helped Plum quickly meld into the system, nicknaming themselves “Toa” to solidify their bond. It’s a Samoan word meaning “warrior,” according to Davis, whose mother is Samoan. Before each game, they bow their heads together and tell each other they have each other’s back.
The duo pushed each other in summer workouts to become the conference’s top backcourt.
“It’s weird for me because here’s one of the best players in the Pac-12 telling me to shoot,” said Plum, a 5-9 sophomore. “Her (records) are more special because no one really expected it from her. And there’s no one that deserves it more than Jaz does.
“She’s gotten better over time — her crossover, making the most unbelievable shots and her leadership. From when I got here to now, Jaz has become much more of a well-rounded player. She guards the best player every night, she leads our team in assists (4.3 per game) and just really led this team.”
Davis likes to reflect on her career as a way to count her blessings. Those early days are some of the thoughts she said she’ll recall this weekend when honored as a graduating senior along with Williams, who’s now UW’s all-time leader in total rebounds (1,092).
A favorite memory for Davis is when she first met UW Hall of Famer Jamie Redd, who held the all-time scoring record since 1999 at 2,027 points. Redd approached Davis after a game at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“It was, ‘Hi, I’m Jamie, you need to work on your pull-up (jumper),’ ” Davis said with a laugh. “It was like she was back in the game, roughing me up a little bit.”
Said Redd: “She’s one of those kids that will take a challenge, run with it and get better. I love the kid. I love her energy and her drive. She will not back down.”
It’s that relentlessness that makes Washington’s offense click with three players each able to take over a game. With Davis at the helm, she’s able to get her teammates to share the ball to reach a common goal.
“We want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves,” Walton said. “Jaz has led us, not only as our point guard but that voice. The imprint she’s leaving on this program is phenomenal. Who would have thought? It’s crazy to see, but she’s earned everything she’s achieved.”
|UW women’s basketball career leading scorers|