published Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Jasmine Joyner an emerging star for UTC women's basketball

Jasmine Joyner blocks shots.

That should come as no surprise to anyone, especially nobody around the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball program. She showed how well she could do it at the high school level, and Saturday afternoon, Davidson got a real good look at how dangerous she can be with that skill.

Seven times.

The 6-foot-2 freshman's block-party came in a 76-62 victory over the Lady Wildcats. Her seven blocks tied a school record -- set by Alex Anderson in 2006 and matched in 2008 -- and came in just 24 minutes, which was by far her season high in terms of minutes, and she sits and learns behind seniors Ashlen Dewart and Faith Dupree.

It was the latter's first-half ankle injury which paved the way for Joyner's extended minutes, and the player with the 6-foot-7 wingspan, who ranks eighth in the National Federation of High School Association history with 614 blocks during her prep career at Southaven (Miss.), made the most of it.

The best part of it all? She understands her strengths.

"Jaz is a great shot-blocker," UTC head coach Jim Foster said. "She's not ordinary with that talent. She has a real instinct for it and is very disciplined. She doesn't come down; she extends straight up, which is what a really great shot blocker has to do so she doesn't get into foul trouble.

"She's as good a shot-blocker as I have coached, and I have coached some pretty good ones."

Joyner explained that it isn't always her intention to block shots. Sometimes, it just happens.

"Sometimes because of my long arms, they just shoot into my hands because of my wingspan," she said Saturday afternoon.

Of the team's 21 games this season, Joyner did not play in eight of them. Not that she minds, though; she understands that her time is coming. She should get similar minutes tonight at 7, when the Mocs (18-3, 10-0) takes their final conference trip ever to face Georgia Southern (7-14, 5-5), as Dupree will sit out the game, but in the meanwhile, she's enjoying the tutelage that she is receiving from a couple of skilled post players.

"My time is coming," Joyner said Saturday. "I just hope we get Faith back because it's her senior year and so she can come back and help lead us to the NCAA tournament."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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