Q-And-A With Yamonie Jenkins And Destini Cooper

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During the 2009-10 season, the Reynoldsburg (Ohio) High School women’s basketball team made its first appearance in the state final four.

The success of the Raiders was partially attributed to then freshmen Destini Cooper and Yamonie Jenkins. Four years later, Cooper and Jenkins find themselves in a green Ohio jersey and two games into their collegiate careers.

Though the two play different positions, they answered many of the following questions similarly and were quick to praise one another’s skills on the court.

Who is your favorite basketball player?

YJ: “Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash; Kobe because I’ve always been a Laker fan and I really like the way he leads his team. Steve Nash because as a point guard, I can relate to him and I learned a lot from watching him.”

DC: “LeBron James. I kind of followed my dad when I was younger, so ever since then I’ve been watching him play. He has good game, too.”

What is your fondest basketball memory of which you were a part?

YJ: “When my team when to the state final four. We played at the [Schottenstein Center] where the [Ohio State] Buckeyes play. That was a good moment for me to experience basketball on a bigger [stage.] I think the bigger experience helped me to get ready for college.”

DC: “My freshman year and junior year, we made it to the [state] final four; probably more so my freshman year because that was the first time Reynoldsburg ever went that far in the tournament and to be a part of it was fun. “

What is your favorite basketball moment that you have witnessed?

YJ: “Watching Kobe score his career-high point total.”

DC: “Being able to see Candace Parker make it to the WNBA after watching her for so long was exciting.”

What is the best part about Athens?

YJ: “I like the campus and the environment. I also like the support from the faculty and the students as well.”

DC: “The atmosphere and people. It’s very secluded, but not so secluded that you are in the middle of nowhere. There’s still not too much to do, but it’s very nice and ‘homey.’ The people around here are generally nice. Even if they don’t know you, they’re still nice.”

What has been difficult about transitioning to the college game?

YJ: “Probably the speed. Basketball in high school was much slower and I was almost always faster than my opponent…just moving at a quicker speed at all times and not slowing down.”

DC: “The speed is different than what we’re used to. Plus, these new rules that the NCAA are completely different, more strict than high school.”

Any pregame traditions or superstitions?

YJ: “No, I have none.”

DC: “I can be superstitious sometimes. If I have a really good game and there was something that I did before the game, like tying my shoes a certain way or something, I’ll try to do it the same way the next game. Nothing really major.”

What’s the best part of one another’s game?

YJ: “I like the chemistry between Destini and I. We’ve been playing together since fifth grade. She’s very versatile: she can shoot from outside and she can play inside and I’m used to that now. Now that we’re in college together, it’s easier to build that chemistry and build that bond. I’m excited to play with her here.”

DC: “Her ball-handling skills and her defense. The defense is where ‘she puts her game on.’ She has really focused on her defense these last couple of years because everybody had been telling her that she’s too small and that she wouldn’t come into college playing that much. She really tried to work on her defensive skills and her ball-handling skills. I really love that about her. She has very good court vision as well and she’s not a selfish point guard. She looks for everybody else to make plays and not just herself. “

If you two went one-on-one, who wins?

YJ: “We’ve actually played one-on-one before. She won a couple of times, I won a couple of times. It depends on the day.”

DC: “If I take her down low, I win. If we’re starting up high, she might take me a few times because she’s pretty quick and I’m not that quick.”

If you didn’t play basketball, what sport would you play?

YJ: “Track and field. I actually started track before I played basketball. I used to run United States of America Track and Field and went to the Junior Olympics. Track was very big for me in high school; we won states four years in a year and I was part of the state record-holding 4-x-100 meter team.”

DC: “I think I’d try soccer because I played it for five years straight when I was little and I was pretty good at it, but because I was so tall, my parents forced me to play basketball. I then fell in love with that.”