The paper work sits in Netanya Jackson’s dorm room at Barton Community College. She diligently reads her college transcript, which arrived in the mail on Monday, from NCAA Division-I Murray State University in Murray, Ky.
On Monday, Jackson, a 6-foot-4 sophomore and physically imposing post player for the Lady Cougars, verbally committed to play basketball for the Murray State Lady Racers, a school that initially began recruiting her last year when she was a freshman.
Jackson said she plans to officially sign on the dotted line to play for Murray State on Friday, her 20th birthday, after receiving additional paperwork, presumably today or Thursday.
“I’m really excited,” said Jackson, a native of Murfreesboro, Tenn. “Just being close to home, I will be playing against a lot of my friends from my high school days, and I will be playing D-I basketball.”
Jackson was an intimidating force in the paint for the Lady Cougars, who finished 18-13 overall. She had the propensity to alter an opponents’ shot with her size and wing span. She blocked a team-high 53 shots this past season, and averaged 8.4 points and 4.9 rebounds.
Jackson totaled 152 rebounds — third on the team behind all-conference sophomore forward Dionne Harris (216) and freshman forward Blair Bloomquist (164) — while playing limited minutes.
“I’ve never doubted that I could play at D-I,” Jackson said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was 10, and I’ve always felt that I could do it.”
Jackson knows as well as anyone that she needs to improve her endurance, having averaged around 20 minutes per game this past season.
“Stamina,” Jackson said. “Like sliding my feet on defense, I need to work on that.”
Jackson, a graduate of Blackman High School in Murfreesboro, said she will be matched up against some of her former high school teammates and opponents, along with a former Barton teammate in guard Christina Caddy.
“Marie Carpenter, Molly Heady and Taneisha Stenfon, we all played AAU basketball together in Tennessee,” Jackson said.
Caddy, who left Barton after one season (2010-11), plays for Tennessee Tech, the same league Jackson will be playing in at Murray State —the Ohio Valley Conference. Murray State posted a 13-18 record last season and had no player the size of Jackson on its roster. The Lady Racers’ tallest player was 6-3.
“Molly Heady (guard-forward) plays for Tennessee Tech with Christina,” Jackson said. “Marie Carpenter, that’s my best friend, she plays guard for Eastern Kentucky, and Taneisha Stenfon, a guard, is playing for Tennessee State. She’s from my high school. I played at McGavock High School my junior year.”
Jackson says she has some fond memories of Barton.
“Sophomore Night was definitely a good memory, probably my best game,” said Jackson of her team’s win over Cloud County on March 3, where she scored a career-high 22 points to go along with nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
Jackson also had a game in January at home against Garden City, where she hit all seven of her shots from the floor, the most by any player in the Jayhawk Conference during the 2011-12 season without missing a shot.
“Jennifer Allende, my teammate, winning Homecoming Queen (on Homecoming against Colby on Feb. 24), that was a cool memory,” Jackson recalled. “Going to Wichita (at Koch Arena for an NJCAA Region VI quarterfinal) last year (her freshman season), that was fun.
“We got to stay in a huge hotel and got to play at Wichita State University. It was really a lot of fun there.”
Jackson considered going into the criminal justice field, but has opted for animal behavior — specifically, she wants to become a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla.
“I think I’m going to go into animal behavior,” Jackson said. “Because I want to work at SeaWorld. When I was younger, I saw them and it was something that I wanted to.
“I’ve been to SeaWorld before. It’s something my family is going to do again, after my graduation in May from Barton.”