Women's Basketball: Jasmine Weatherspoon improved versatility benefits the Bobcats

 

Ohio forward Jasmine Weatherspoon looks to pass around Kent State guard Larissa Lurken during a game on Feb. 24. Along with Yamonie Jenkins and Quiera Lampkins, Weatherspoon is one of three seniors who are looking to lead the team back to the NCAA Tournament. (FILE)

Like many Ohio players, senior forward Jasmine Weatherspoon is versatile; she can rebound, block shots and drive to the basket.

One thing she hasn’t done very well though is shoot the ball, a key component of Ohio’s offense.

Weatherspoon shot 24.4 percent from the 3-point line last season and as the Bobcats prepare for their season, she is working on improving her outside shot.

“Her shooting has improved vastly, and it’s improved her overall game because of it,” coach Bob Boldon said.

During her freshman and sophomore seasons, opponents didn’t respect Weatherspoon’s outside shot. Teams wouldn’t guard her outside the paint, knowing that her jump shot was a weakness.

Now, with Weatherspoon’s shooting ability improved — she shot 9.5 percent and 22.2 percent in her freshman and sophomore seasons, respectively —she will be harder to guard.

Boldon said Weatherspoon is good at driving to the basket. Sprinkle in a jump shot, and Weatherspoon becomes basketball’s newest invention: a stretch four, a power forward or even a center in some cases who can defend the paint and shoot from beyond the arc.

“It (shooting) gives us another weapon that can shoot it from out there,” Weatherspoon said.

With Weatherspoon being another option on the offensive end, other players will be able to play in space, which ultimately means more open jump shots for the team.

Though Weatherspoon’s role on the offensive end is expanding, she will be expected to continue to be one of the team’s best defenders. Last season, Weatherspoon led the Mid-American Conference in blocks per game with 1.8.

Boldon considers Weatherspoon to be one of the most athletic players on the team. She played volleyball in high school, and she said blocking a basketball is reminiscent of spiking a volleyball.

“I’ve always been able to time it (the shot) up right,” Weatherspoon said. “It’s just something that came natural to me.”

With Weatherspoon molding into a versatile player, she can still refine one more asset of her game: rebounding. Last season, Weatherspoon averaged 5.8 rebounds per game, 18th in the MAC.

“It’s about her having her mind set that she wants to be a great rebounder,” Boldon said. “She has the ability to do it and has shown it at times.”

Rebounding, however, is a skill that isn’t solely based on height; a player can’t expect to get a rebound just because of their height. Weatherspoon is no different.

Standing 6-foot-2, she, along with Kelly Karlis, is one of the tallest players on the team. Like any other player trying to box out their opponent in the paint, Weatherspoon must be willing to fight for rebounds — even if sometimes she doesn’t come away with the ball.

“That’s probably the next step for her,” Boldon said. “Just being determined to go in there every time no matter what her success rate is.”

 

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