Michelle Simmons is emphatic and Merlakia Jones almost as adamant. Though Tim Miller wavers ever so slightly, he doesn’t disagree.
Jasmine Walker, the Jeff Davis star and new signee of the Florida State Seminoles, has made quite an impact over her high school career.
But where does she rank among the city’s all-time girls basketball greats?
“She is definitely in the top three,” said Simmons, the retired G.W. Carver coach and the sport’s matriarch in the city.
“It would be hard to choose who was No. 1, 2 or 3, but she’s definitely in that top three.”
Simmons runs through a long list of players.
She starts with Jones, a 1991 Carver graduate who went on to the University of Florida and had a nine-year WNBA career.
Jones is now an assistant at Carver. For the boys team.
“From what Jasmine has done and the ability she has, both inside and outside, she’d have to rank among the top players,” Jones said.
Jones mentions Alfredda Abernathy, a former coach of hers who also had skills both inside and outside. Abernathy, who grew up in Georgia, is now the athletic director at Capitol Heights Junior High.
“Jasmine really reminds me of her,” Jones said. “She’s an all-around player who can beat you inside and outside.”
Kayla Melson, the star on Sidney Lanier’s 2005 state championship team and a 1,000-point scorer at Ole Miss, makes Simmons’ list. There are many, many others that quickly come to mind, Simmons said.
“We have had some good kids come out of Montgomery, and that’s a great blessing,” Simmons said. “The thing about Jasmine is her attitude is so great about the game. She’s very disciplined.
“I’ve enjoyed watching her play. She’s a person that’s so hard to match up with because she can do so many things.”
Walker, who has 1,338 career points entering Tuesday’s game at Opelika, is considered one of the nation’s top seniors.
As a junior, Walker led Jeff Davis to a state championship and was one of the state’s top five players, regardless of classification. She’s a two-time All-State player.
“I haven’t been around here that long and could only go by hearsay, but — by my eyes — I say she’s one of the greatest since I’ve been here,” ninth-year JD coach LaKenya Knight said.
The Vols had a slew of major Division I signees during Miller’s eight-season, 214-win run that included a 2006 state championship.
Courtney Ward, who was at Walker’s signing ceremony Monday and is Lanier’s first-year coach, was a three-year starter at and graduated from Florida State.
There was also Brittaney Thomas, who originally went to Florida, and Cassie Moore, who originally went to Auburn. Marquita Green, who participated in the AHSAA’s state tournament dunk contest as a senior in 2003, signed with Auburn but didn’t qualify.
“You know when you see Jas, that’s a Division I player,” said Miller, now the coach at Hazel Green and a former Alabama assistant. “When you saw those others, you knew you were watching a Division I player.”
Walker, a 6-foot-3 forward, said she picked the Seminoles because of her comfort with the players and the program and “I know I’ll have a chance to go to the WNBA.
She also feels it’s warranted to consider her among the city of Montgomery’s all-time best.
“I feel like I deserve it,” Walker said. “I have worked hard and I will continue to work so that our team can keep winning.”