Head Gonzaga Womens basketball coach Kelly Graves knows what it takes to win championships and develop WCC players of the year, and one of the keys to success is recruiting the best possible talent. But beyond the impressive statistics of a prospective student-athlete are the most important ingredients: heart, desire, winning attitude, team oriented, work ethic, positive outlook, proper priorities and great ambassadors of the school, to list a few attributes. As the Lady Zags program starts its upward move, better and better stuent-athletes are being targeted.
That is why Jamela Magee of Seattle's Holy Names is on the Lady Zags coach's wish list. The 6'1" senior power forward boasts impressive stats (15 ppg, 7 rpg), including games where she registered double-doubles of 21 points/15 rebounds, 16 points/13 rebounds and more, but it's the person behind the numbers that has captured Gonzaga's full attention. Jamela has narrowed her choices of schools down to three: Gonzaga, Nevada-Reno and Washington State. She has completed her official visits and coaches from each school have come to her home to meet her family. Zags Hoops caught up with Magee a few evenings ago.
The Seattle native is a 4.0 student who is disappointed when her GPA dips to 3.5 for a semester, despite tougher academics at Holy Names, a private Catholic school in the heart of Seattle. While most future athletes were trying out other sports like soccer or volleyball or track, Jamela was taking ballet and dance lessons. By fourth-grade, after living a year in Louisiana, she was playing organized basketball. Always tall for her age, she was a natural, but never took it too seriously until she realized that hoops could be a major part of her future, including a free college education.
Jamela never really had any basketball idols when growing up, but now that she is a highly recruited player, she enjoys watching the WNBA and womens college games on TV or at KeyArena. Lisa Leslie came to mind when asked who she admires most. Magee's most important heroes, though, are her family, from her parents and siblings to her extended family. These are the people who have impacted and influenced her life the most.
She entered high school at 5'11" and now is 6'1". Asked if she had stopped growing yet and she laughs and says there still might be another inch to go. Her strength is defense. "I love playing defense." She is an adept shot-blocker and can rebound with anybody. Jamela loves to haul in a rebound and get a fast break going with a quick outlet pass, run the floor (something she is also very good at) and finish at the other end. She is working hardest on her ball-handling skills, her outside shooting and her overall strength. Magee loves to beat bigger or taller women off the dribble, so ball-handling is important to her. She is very good in and around the basket with a nice shot out to 15 feet, but she'd like to extend her range to the arc. Her coaches want her to score more, so look for her averages per game to jump this year.
She's working on it, and by the sound of determination in her voice, there is little doubt that she'll be an outside threat to compliment her already skilled inside game.
One of Jamela's most satisfying and best games came against Blanchet last season. Even though the Holy Names Lady Cougars lost by a slim margin, Magee explains that the entire team played together and everybody gelled and the effort was stellar. She is humble but confident in her individual abilities, but first and foremost she is all about "Team."
Her goals are to contribute to Holy Names as much as she can toward a state 3A championship, choose the best college that fits her, earn a degree in Speech Pathology so she can help disabled children or people who have speech problems to learn to speak again. Education and helping people are top priorities to Jamela Magee. Asked about a pro career after college and she's realistic but will see what happens, always keeping an open mind.
Her visit to Gonzaga was great and she was pleasantly surprised by the large size of Spokane, and she was very impressed with the school, the coaches and the Lady Zags. A self-proclaimed city girl, Jamela expected Spokane to be smaller than it is. But a talented, gifted athlete like Magee doesn't go unnoticed and other Division 1 schools are pursuing her as well. After narrowing her list, Gonzaga is battling Nevada-Reno for her services. She liked her visit to Reno a lot, too, and she confesses that it won't be an easy choice. Jamela doesn't count out WSU but admits she's not used to a small town like Pullman.
Off the court she enjoys spending time with her family, bowling, attending other sports, going to movies (Denzel Washington is a favorite) and listening to music like R&B. Usher is one of her favorites.
Jamela is a delightful, articulate young woman who plans on making her college decision in early November. She will be a tremendous asset to the lucky school that she selects, and Gonzaga coaches, alums and fans can only hope she'll be donning a Zags uniform a year from now.