Jackson County

Florida, Georgia among dozens of programs pursuing Pascagoula hoops star Cherry

 Jailin Cherry of Pascagoula

Pascagoula girls basketball star Jailin Cherry has been a popular name on the recruiting trail lately.

Her dad, Doug, estimates that she has in the neighborhood of 40 schools showing interest in the talented guard.

Auburn, Georgia, TCU, Arizona, Florida, Colorado the list goes on.

Cherry has earned the attention after putting together another impressive season as a junior. She averaged 14 points, 19 rebounds, six assists and five steals per game for the Lady Panthers.

With her senior year still ahead of her, there's no rush to decide where she'll play basketball on the next level.

"I don't have a favorite right now because I haven't gone on many visits," Cherry said. "I'm having fun with it. I talk to them when I can because I'm usually working out or doing school work."

Cherry has made two visits to Troy and Louisiana Tech and she's hoping to take many more this summer. She listed Georgia, Florida, Memphis and Auburn as being among the campuses she plans to hit before she starts her senior year.

How are Cherry and her parents handling all the attention? "Day by day," her father said. "It's been fun. I tell her in recruiting, don't ever rule anybody out. That's the main thing. It's a once in a lifetime chance that will probably never happen again. Take it and run with it. This is what you worked so hard for."

Jailin's parents have controlled much of the contact she has had with college recruiters, but she's about to have to start talking more with college coaches soon.

"They think they're calling her, but they're calling me or emailing her mom," Doug Cherry said. "We're getting to the point where we'll have to give up her phone number so they can talk to her personally. They want to talk to the kid. We can't block them all the time."

The 5-foot-9 guard has played numerous roles at Pascagoula, seeing significant playing time since she was a freshman.

She can score, find teammates for open shots and crash the boards as strong as anybody, but it's her ball handling that sets her apart from the crowd.

"They love to talk about her ball handling skills," Doug Cherry said. "She can go right strong. She can go left just as well. Nothing is going to hold her down. You really have to come on with it to slow her down."

Jailin Cherry has had some contact South Carolina, the defending SEC champion, and she's hoping to hear more from national powerhouse programs like Tennessee and UConn.

"We've reached out to UConn and Tennessee. They know about her," Doug Cherry said. "If they come calling, we'll talk. I believe if UConn, Tennessee or South Carolina go ahead and offer her, she'll probably sign that deal that day."