As the daughter of UT-Chattanooga legend and former New York Knick Gerald Wilkins, the niece of Atlanta Hawks great Dominique Wilkins and the younger sister of Damien Wilkins of the Detroit Pistons, Jasmyn Wilkins has been surrounded by basketball prodigies since her 1990 birth in Chattanooga.
However, the 22-year-old nursing student at Georgia State University and Johns Creek resident may ascend to royalty herself on Sunday night when she competes in the Miss USA Pageant in Las Vegas. Coverage begins on WRCB-TV at 9 p.m. from the Planet Hollywood Performing Arts Center with hosts Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic.
The winner will represent the USA at the Miss Universe Pageant later this year and will be an advocate for breast and ovarian cancer survivors and research. She will also work for pageant co-owners Donald Trump and NBC Universal along with The Miss Universe Organization.
Tennessee’s entrant is Middle Tennessee State University student Jessica Hibler of Nashville and Auburn University graduate Katherine Webb from Phenix City is representing Alabama.
Miss Wilkins, who is nicknamed Jazz because she was a saxophonist in her prep school’s orchestra and marching band, had the ultimate beginner’s luck last November in Cartersville when she became Miss Georgia USA in her first ever pageant competition. If she wins on Sunday night and many industry insiders have tabbed her among the favorites for the title, she would become the first Miss USA from the Peach State in the event’s 60 year history.
The top 16 among the 51 contestants will compete in the finals, but one will be selected by virtue of being the top vote getter in a contest on the Miss USA website (http://www.missuniverse.com/missusa/members/contestants). The voting concludes at midnight Saturday.
While Miss Wilkins excelled in athletics at The Wesleyan School participating in the basketball family tradition but also in lacrosse and cross-country as well as serving as captain of the track and field team, she stated on her contestant page (http://www.missuniverse.com/missusa/members/profile/651301/year:2012/) that she is delighted to have a change in footwear in her quest for the USA crown and the opportunities that accompany the title.
“I come from a family of incredibly hard-working professional athletes, and I traded my tennis shoes in for high heels in order to pursue my goal of becoming Miss USA.”
Her younger sister Holli will be playing basketball at Furman University after a stellar career at Wesleyan winning seven state titles and being nominated for Georgia’s Athlete of the Year.
Another motivation for Miss Wilkins is the opportunity to share her mother Vita’s story of undergoing two life-saving organ transplants after being diagnosed with the rare liver disease Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis.
If Miss Wilkins doesn’t become Miss USA, she plans to resume her studies at Georgia State, where she is completing her senior year. Her career goal is to become a nurse anesthetist or a dermatology nurse.