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Jasmine Hale photo

Jasmine Hale

Jasmine Hale’s athletic career faced something of a crossroads when she was in second grade.

“I remember my mom asking me if I wanted to cheer or play basketball,” Hale recalled. “It took me about a week to figure it out, whether I wanted to be a cheerleader or a basketball player. Now that I think about it, that’s kind of crazy. I would never be a cheerleader. I’m very happy with my choice.”

Hale has even more reason to feel good about that decision, having committed to join the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team as part of coach Jonathan Tsipis’ 2018 recruiting class.

Hale, a 5-foot-9 guard from Glen Este High School just outside of Cincinnati, becomes the second member of that class, joining 6-1 wing Carmen Backes from Chisago Lakes, Minnesota.

Hale said she formed an immediate bond with Tsipis and assistant coach Myia McCurdy, who is a Cincinnati native. They were able to surpass other schools who had been recruiting her for a couple years.

“Wisconsin came in toward the middle of it,” Hale said. “I definitely started becoming super close with the coaches, even more close than with some of the coaches I’d been talking to before them. That’s what really caught my eye about them, they know how to recruit and they have a lot of confidence in who they’re recruiting.”

Jeff Click, Hale’s coach at Glen Este, said UW is getting a player with the size and athleticism to play in the Big Ten Conference. And to top it off, she also brings the intangibles to contribute to a winning program.

“She’s the whole package,” said Click, who’s coached at the school for 21 years. “She’s been our best player in our program since she stepped in as a freshman and started for us. She’s led us in scoring every year and she’s been a great teammate. She has a great head on her shoulders, has a great work ethic and treats everybody the right way.

“When you look at players who play in the Power 5 conferences, not only are they skilled but I think athletically they stand out. (As a freshman) she looked like she was going to be long and athletic, so we kind of thought she had a chance to play at that level.”

Hale, who averaged 13.2 points per game as a junior, comes from an athletic family. Her father, Ron, was an All-ACC player at Florida State and played professional overseas for many years. Her mother, Stephanie, was a soccer player at Florida State. Her brother Donavan is a wide receiver at Indiana and one of her sisters, Kendall, will be a teammate as a freshman next year.

“Kendall is every bit as talented as Jas, so we’re excited,” Click said. “It should be a fun year.”

Click said that Hale is something of an anomaly these days in that she doesn’t rely on the 3-point shot for her offense.

“She’s more of a slasher, somebody who puts pressure on the defense by attacking the basket,” he said. “She’s a little bit different. A lot of players today start with the 3-point shot and then they kind of go from there. Her game starts with the way she attacks the basket. She wants to go to the rim and then she’ll work her way out.”

Hale, who plays for Cincinnati’s Finest AAU program, said she’s looking forward to playing without the stress of trying to impress college coaches.

“I feel like I got so much off of my chest,” she said. “I’m so relieved and I’m really happy with my choice. I’m glad that Wisconsin decided to be a part of my process. Coach Tsipis and Coach Myia have believed in me throughout the whole process. That’s what really kept me in on Wisconsin.”


Dennis Punzel covers Wisconsin Badgers volleyball, women's basketball for the Wisconsin State Journal.