When you watch A'ja play for the first time the talent is obvious. She is a long and lean 6-foot-5 player who is very athletic and can shoot from the outside or drive inside. She blocks shots with the best of them and is very disruptive on the defensive side of the ball. A'ja pretty much describes her game the same way.
"Defensively, I think I shot blocks well, I see the ball movement really well," she said. "(Offensively), if I face a big girl I can pull her out and take her to the basket. If I face a small girl that might be quicker than me I can also take her to the basket. I also think I stay poised during the game. I don't let them get into my head and get me out of my game. I try to be consistent. And I also try to help my teammates."
Although very talented, that talent hasn't always been present, at least not on the basketball court early on in her career.
"When I was twelve years old I noticed I was pretty athletic but I didn't want to play basketball back then," said A'ja, who started her athletic career as a soccer player. "My dad was like go out there with the (Palmetto) 76ers and kind of shoot around with them. I told him alright and the next thing I knew I was sitting on their bench and I didn't play for the first year and a half."
A hard worker, she used that work ethic to make herself better.
"I started working on my shots and they started falling," she said. "That's when I started playing the wing. That's where I am the most comfortable. And that's when I started loving the game."
The combination of her love for the game and her talent has generated national rankings for her. She is currently ranked nationally from 10th to 24th in her class. But the rankings mean very little to this talented youngster.
"I really don't care about where I am ranked," said A'ja. "I just want to go out there and play my game. However they rate me, they rate me.
"The one thing the ranking does do (for me) is kind of show me that others know that I can play. It tells me that I can hang with these girls. It's like sometimes when we come to a game and we might play (a team like) AOT and they are all ranked players, all committed. I look at them and I know I can hang with them, too. That helps my confidence."
As you would expect from someone ranked as high as A'ja, her recruiting reflects that high ranking.
"There are several schools that are recruiting me; the SEC, the ACC, the Big Ten, there are a lot," said A'ja.
As for offers, she knows she has a lot but she's not sure how many. But her AAU coach, Jerome Dickerson, has a very good idea who has offered.
"(She has) offers from North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Florida, Florida State, Miami (FL), North Carolina State, Clemson, Tennessee, UConn, there are so many that have offered," said Dickerson. "The only teams that haven't offered are the ones that haven't seen (her)."
Although she's not much into the recruiting process right now, she is pretty adamant about what position she wants to play on the collegiate level.
"Several colleges are recruiting me and they are recruiting me as a guard because they know I'm a guard," said A'ja. "If a college looks at me as a post (player) I tell them I'm a guard. I love the three because I have the advantage there. (But) if they need me (in the post) I will go there, but I'm not saying put me down there every time."
Keep it on GenesPage.com for the latest on this very, very talented member of the class of 2014.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.