Former BC High School Player of the Year Tayla Jackson, who led Brookswood Secondary in Langley to back-to-back Triple “A” provincial championships, has transferred from NCAA Division 1 University of California Irvine to Simon Fraser University.
“Tayla will bring a fiery, competitive presence and will be a great addition to our team,” Clan women’s basketball head coach Bruce Langford said. “She will provide toughness, rebounding and more of a physical presence inside. She’s also athletic and runs the floor well so she will help us push the ball more next season.”
Jackson, a 6’3” centre, is returning home after her freshman season at UC Irvine, where she appeared in 31 games, averaging four points and 3.6 rebounds in 18 minutes per contest.
“I am hoping to come in and compliment the current players, get to know everyone, figure out where I fit and what I need to do to help us win,” said Jackson. “Whatever I need to do to help us win I will do.”
“I have a competitive edge and a bit of a firecracker in me so I will push and lift my teammates to be better,” she added.
Before joining Cal-Irvine, Jackson was named the 2015 High School Player of the Year by Basketball BC after leading Brookswood to back-to-back tiles, earning first team all-star awards both years.
In the championship finals, Jackson was at her best. She scored 20 points and grabbed a game-high 23 rebounds in the 2014 final and had 16 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks in the 2015 championship game.
This season Simon Fraser finished 16-11 overall and lost in the semifinals of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference post-season tournament. In 2013 and 2014, SFU competed in the NCAA tournament, advancing to the round of 16 in 2013 and the round of 32 in 2014.
“SFU plays the highest level of basketball in the Lower Mainland and it was important to me to continue to compete in the NCAA in order to push myself to the highest level,” said Jackson, who is planning to pursue a career in teaching.
“There is a comfort level with the SFU program because I attended Clan games throughout high school,” said Jackson. “I am familiar with Bruce, his values and what he stands for, and I trust in him and the program. He has a bit of an old school style and he’s going to push me out of my comfort zone as a player.”
Jackson bolsters a recruiting class that Langford was already calling one of his best ever. The 2016 recruiting class includes forwards Claudia Hart of Seycove Secondary and Ozioma Nwabuko from Riverside, and guards Jessica Jones from RA McMath, Tia Tsang from Hugh McRoberts and Tayler Drynan from Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Wa.
“We were already excited about this recruiting class and Tayla makes us deeper and gives us more experience,” said Langford. “She is a competitive winner who won all through high school and she brings that element to our group.”
SFU graduated one senior, starting guard Alisha Roberts, from last year’s team. The Clan returns eight players, including senior Meg Wilson, a GNAC all-conference selection in 2014, who missed all but two games to injury last season. Wilson also played for the Canadian Junior National team last summer.
Simon Fraser was one of the best three-point shooting teams in NCAA last season and returns its top three-point shooters. Back for her senior season will be point guard Ellen Kett, who averaged 11.6 points and 7.3 assist per game, while shooting 49.5 percent on threes. Swingman Elisa Homer, who was fourth in the conference in scoring averaging 16.5 ppg and third in NCAA with 3.76 threes per game, returns for her junior season.