10 Youthful Questions for Jazmine Perkins

WITH THE GAME on the line, you'd figure the ball should be in the hands of April Cook or Jazmine Perkins. After all, the two WSU juniors have been starters and major scoring threats for June Daugherty's Cougar women's basketball team for two seasons. But when the question was asked of Perkins, her response was so unexpected that I had to double-check the spellings of the two names she gave me.

With the game on the line and time left for just one shot, Perkins said she'd have Sage Romburg or Ireti Amojo shoot the ball.

Romburg is a true freshman at WSU this season and Amojo is a second-year freshman who redshirted last year after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the opening game. Combined, Romburg and Amojo have taken five shots (all by Amojo) in an actual college game.

Perkins, on the other hand, has taken 818 shots so far in her college career and scored 740 points!

All that faith she has in her younger teammates was just one interesting fact I learned from Jazmine a few weeks ago when she took time to answer several questions from me -- a cub reporter -- as part of a periodic column aimed at asking WSU players and coaches the questions adults don't always think of asking.

Do the Cougar women basketball players ever scrimmage with the players on the Cougar men's team?
Jazmine : We play together in open gym from time to time. We're always wanting to play and get better. The guys go hard, play tough – we all play hard just like we would in a normal game, regardless of gender.

ALWAYS ON THE MOVE, PERKINS LAST SEASON AVERAGED 10.9 POINTS PER GAME WHILE LEADING THE COUGARS IN REBOUNDING. SHE WAS 2ND ON THE TEAM IN STEALS AND 3RD IN ASSISTS.

Do you think a woman could ever play in the NBA?
Jazmine : Yes, I think a woman could play there someday. The key would be getting much stronger, but anything is possible.

Why did you decide to come to WSU?
Jazmine : WSU was a new environment, it's like family here. It felt good and safe. My main focus was just getting out of the city I was in to start something new, and I just knew I could do it here at WSU. The coaches and how they treated me when I came up here (on my official recruiting visit), the whole recruiting process, everything was great and I just loved it and had to commit to WSU ... I knew I wanted to play in the Pac-10. I grew up in Berkeley watching the Pac-10 ... I wanted to help them (WSU) rebuild their program.

Your path to WSU is pretty special because you had to overcome some tough things in your childhood to get where you are. Could you tell me about that?
Jazmine : Basically, where I come from, it's not really a safe environment for young teens. There are a lot of drugs – every kind of drug – and a lot of killings. You have people that turn against you. Just a lot of issues. Some people don't care for certain students. There's a lot of if you're good at something, they're trying to make you do the opposite of your goal. I went through a lot of that in high school, people trying to get me to do other things and get me off track ... It was a bumpy road. At one point in time I was thinking there was no way I was going to be able to do this. It was a struggle to stay on the right path ... It was all about the hustle, by that I mean people trying to get money any kind of way to survive without working or going to school ... Once I graduated from high school and got to campus and took my first class, I realized anything is possible. I could do it ... Back home, if you don‘t have anybody to push you or give you the confidence that you need you're going to have a tough time outside the home ... My role model is my mother. She is the only one in the family who has been to college ...


THE PERKINS FILE
A 5-9 guard from Berkeley (Calif.) High. Was a four-time Street & Smith's high school All-America pick. Named to Pac-10 All-Freshman team in 2009 after starting all 30 games for WSU. Pursuing a degree in fashion design.

Given the obstacles you've overcome, does it give you extra confidence when you wake up in the morning that you can handle pretty much anything?
Jazmine : Yes, to know that I can face up to tough challenges is big. But I'm most thankful that I'm in a great environment with people that actually care. I will do whatever is asked and work very hard every day for the team. Whatever I have to do, I've got to do it the right way and keep working hard and keep pushing.

When did you realize you were good enough to play in a big conference like the Pac-10?
Jazmine : When I played my first college game, against Texas Tech down at Texas Tech. You start off nervous, but once the game started I got the first basket and I was more confident that I could play at this level. Once I got to Pac-10 play, I had all the confidence I needed to succeed in helping my team ... Now it was ‘let's take it to the next level.'

Let's say it's the championship game of the Pac-10 Tournament and the Cougars are losing by one point. There's time left for one final play. What is the play and who is the shooter?
Jazmine : I would have to say we'd run motion, and the shooter would be Sage (Romburg) or Ireti (Amojo).

If they are all in their primes, who would be your first pick to build a Dream Team around: Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes or Cheryl Miller?
Jazmine : I'd have to say Sheryl Swoopes. I love her game. The mentality she brings to the court is great. I think she's had a big influence on this generation of women, both in watching and participating in sports.

Were you surprised that KiKi Moore left the team? How will the point guard position be handled at WSU without her?
Jazmine : It was not a surprise. I knew KiKi from back home. Some things aren't right for certain people and I think it's a better fit where she is now (Fresno State) ... The point guard spot will be filled with Rosetta Adzasu. She's going to be great.

Is there anything else you would like Cougfan readers to know that I didn't ask you about?
Jazmine : I want to let people know that we are working hard to be champions!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alexandra Witter is an eighth-grade honor student in Seattle who plays soccer and basketball.