On Monday, Haywood, who stands 6-feet, 1 inches tall, announced that she has verbally committed to play basketball at McNeese State University, a Division I school, in Lake Charles, La. Several other schools had expressed interest in Haywood including California State University, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Northwestern State University in Louisiana, East Mississippi Community College, Mississippi Delta Community College, Jacksonville State in Alabama, Delta State University and Mississippi Valley State University.
When Haywood went to visit the campus of McNeese State this weekend, everyone at the school made an immediate impression on her.
“I really loved the coaches and the team and how they do everything together and they made me feel at home,” Haywood said. “My athletic director always told me it’s better to have one bird in your hand than have two in a bush, so I decided to commit early.”
With the basketball season still a couple of months away, Haywood said making the decision early takes a lot of stress of her in her senior year.
“It’s a relief, because now I can focus on my grades and have fun in my senior year,” Haywood said.
Haywood, who has been playing as a center for JFK, will be playing forward when she goes to college. This year, Haywood will some action at forward as well as center for JFK.
Last season on the basketball court, Haywood was named Region 3-2A’s Offensive MVP as she averaged over 15 points and 12 rebounds per game. She scored 41 points in two games in the Region 3-2A Tournament last season and 34 points in two games in the 2A North State Playoffs. Haywood’s production enabled JFK to go 20-6 with a Region 3-2A championship.
“She has great awareness on the floor,” JFK girls basketball head coach Linda Allen said. “She know what to do with the ball once you get the ball. She’s been a big help down low. When we throw that ball into her, nine out of 10 times we’re going to get points. She has increased, not only her shooting ability down low, she has increased her shooting ability outside. She’s one of our 3-point shooters.”
JFK’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 6. The Lady Hornets will be playing in 1A this year. Haywood has been on some competitive teams, but has yet to play in the state tournament in Jackson.
Haywood said she’s looking for big things in her senior year.
“I really want this season to be special,” Haywood said. “I want more of my teammates to be seen and get a little exposure. I plan on leading my team to state, and I hope they’re willing to help me get to state.”