Lauren Bell didn’t want to pester Jazmine Jackson, but that didn’t stop her from hoping.
A senior on the Sacred Heart Cathedral girls’ basketball team, Bell decided in September that she would continue her career at Pepperdine next fall. She knew Jackson, her teammate, was also considering playing in scenic Malibu, but didn’t want to pressure her into a decision.
Her patience was rewarded earlier this month, when Jackson, the two-time reigning Examiner Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year, verbally committed to the Waves.
“We didn’t really discuss it too much because I’m sure she got tired of answering the same question from everybody,” Bell said. “So I figured she’d tell me when she was ready. And I was definitely excited when I found out.”
The Pepperdine coaches must have been excited as well after adding two of the top players from a team that has gone 63-4 over the past two years and won back-to-back state championships. The 5-foot-9½ Jackson averaged 11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game last season and always raised her play in the biggest games. The forward scored 25 points in Sacred Heart’s 60-54 overtime win over Bishop Amat of La Puente in the CIF Division III title game and averaged 18.5 points in the postseason to lead the Irish to the Central Coast Section, NorCal and state crowns.
And when it came to choosing a college, it just came down to finding the right fit.
“I just really felt comfortable with the players, the coaches, the campus and everything at Pepperdine,” Jackson said. “It was stressful [to go through the recruiting process], but now I can just enjoy my senior year.”
Bell averaged 10.1 points in 14 West Catholic Athletic League games, helping the Irish become the only team in history to go through the conference unbeaten. The 5-foot-7 guard was also Sacred Heart’s top defender and she constantly rose to the challenge of locking down the opponents’ best perimeter scorer.
Bell and Jackson have been playing together since they were in fifth grade at the Mission Rec Center and will join a Waves team that has gone 14-17 in each of the last two years, but appears to be on the upswing under coach Julie Rousseau.
“They’re both very good, very athletic and very smart players,” Sacred Heart coach Brian Harrigan said. “And they’re winners. They’re the kind of kids who would help any program.”