Heights' Massengill First Chattanoogan To Sign With Lady Vols

Helped Lady Hawks Reach National Title Game Last Season

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - by Larry Fleming
Hamilton Heights' Jazmine Massengill
Hamilton Heights' Jazmine Massengill

Jazmine Massengill, a 6-foot-1 senior guard that helped the Hamilton Heights girls reach the Dick’s Sports Goods national championship last season, made basketball history Wednesday afternoon.

Massengill became the first player from Chattanooga to sign with Tennessee’s Lady Vols.

“I know this is a dream come true for Jazmine,” Lady Hawks coach Keisha Hunt said. “For our program, we’ve had girls sign with Division I schools, but never one with a major Division I team. It’s a testament to how hard Jazmine has worked the last few years.

It’s expected that Massengill will play point guard or shooting guard with the Lady Vols. And she’ll have at least one friend when she arrives in Knoxville next fall. Massengill and Anastasia Hayes, a Lady Vols freshman who played at Riverdale, have been friends for some time.

“It’s going to be nice they’ll be playing on the same time for a while,” Hunt said.

How did Massengill, whose brother C.J. played at Hamilton Heights and is now at Tennessee-Chattanooga?

She was watching the Hawks play last season and texting back-and-forth with Lady Vols assistant coach Shanona Reaves. The conversation quickly turned to why Massengill hadn’t committed to the Lady Vols.

“I thought that’s a legitimate question,” Massengill said prior to her signing party Wednesday in the Hamilton Heights gym. “I really didn’t know why I hadn’t committed because I pretty much knew where I wanted to go.”

So, the Lady Hawks standout texted back to Reaves: “You’re right, what am I waiting on and I told her I was committing to Tennessee.”

Then, Massengill called Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick.

“She thought I was playing with her,” Massengill said. “I told her I wasn’t playing with her, that I was committing to Tennessee.”

Now, Massengill has turned her commitment into a signing and she’s now a Lady Vol.

There have been four players from Cleveland play at UT – Jody Adams (1989-93), Brittany Jackson (2001-05), Zandra Montgomery (1977-79) and Joy Scruggs (1971-75). A fifth player, Diane Brady (1973-75), hailed from Calhoun, Tennessee.

Massengill, who had scholarship offers from national champion South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky and 30 other schools. She narrowed the list to five finalists – Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida State, Kentucky and Baylor. Massengill chose not to whittle the list to two or three schools, decided from the top five.

“I kept going up to Tennessee and it always felt like home,” Massengill said. “That felt like the best place for me. The pressure to choose and sign is off of me now. It was a relief to me because if I have a good game or a bad game, I’ve already signed with Tennessee and I don’t have to worry about it anymore.

“I used to get texts or calls from 20 to 30 coaches all the time. Now, I get texts from Tennessee. It kind of got aggravating, but it was a good problem to have.”

With no recruiting anxiety left, Massengill can concentrate on making her final season at Hamilton Heights an enjoyable and, hopefully, one that could end with a national championship in New York.

“We have a lot of potential to be number one,” she said. “We have four starters returning and know what it takes to get there. We almost won it last year and we pretty much have our chemistry down this season. Our expectations for this team are high.

“The main thing we had to do to win the Dick’s tournament is to focus on our team goals, not individual goals, and play as a team.”

Massengill, who started 78 of 82 games the last three seasons, averaged 13.1 points, 4.0 assists and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman. As a sophomore, her averages were 11.8 points, 3.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds.

While leading the Lady Hawks to a 28-2 record her junior season, she averaged 10 points, 7.1 assists and 4.8 assists.

Hamilton Heights defeated Christ The King 56-50 in the Dick’s National semifinals and lost to Miami Country Day 81-56 in the title game.

Hunt, in her 13th year leading the Lady Hawks’ program (she was an assistant for five years), has high hopes for the team this season.

“This is the best team we’ve ever had,” she said, “but we’re also playing the toughest schedule we’ve ever had as well. In fact, I’ve heard from people that we’re playing the toughest high school schedule in the country.

“We want to win every single game and go back to the Dick’s tournament and win there.”

Hunt coaches several of her Lady Hawks in travel ball and the team was ranked No. 1 squad this past summer.

Senior Elizabeth Balogun, who is from Nigeria, has committed to Georgia Tech, but has not signed a national letter of intent as of Wednesday.

Those two players deserve a lot of credit for improving Hamilton Heights’ national reputation.

“Jazmine and Elizabeth were like stepping stones that moved us from one level to the next,” Hunt said.

Note: Zach Ferrell, the school’s boys’ coach, said former Hawks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, part of Hamilton Heights’ three-player Canadian connection last season, are being projected as one-and-done players at Kentucky and Virginia Tech. Both are freshmen this coming season.

The other former Canadian player, Therren Shelton-Szmidt, is now a freshman at Middle Tennessee State.

(Contact Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)

 


Signal Mountain Soccer To Play For State Championship

 A goal by Signal Mountain's Jimmy Johnson in the 17th minute was enough to secure a Class A state semifinal win over Grace Christian of Franklin Wednesday afternoon in Murfreesboro.  With the win, the Eagles advance to play Gatlinburg-Pittman in the Class A state championship game on Friday at 11 a.m. CST. Signal Mountain head coach Richard Northcutt said it was ... (click for more)

Additional Tryout Scheduled For Chattanooga State Volleyball

Chattanooga State has been busy building the college’s first inaugural volleyball team by signing Sakari Pack, Anna Maria Novelli, Sidney Killingsworth, and most recently Ricki Lynn Bickley to its stable of players. An additional tryout has been scheduled for Saturday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to noon in the gymnasium of the Health Fitness Center Building on the main campus. ... (click for more)

Witnesses Say Donaldson Was Calm After Killing Son-In-Law - "I'm Just Sitting Here Waiting For The Law"

Witnesses said Glen Allen Donaldson was calm after killing his son-in-law on Dec. 29, 2016, saying, "I'm just sitting here waiting for the law." Donaldson, 57, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 39-year-old Adam Levi. The jury in the courtroom of Judge Don Poole was told that Donaldson left the residence on Niles Terrace where Levi was living and drove ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Man Who Served Time For Attempted Murder Now Facing Armed Robbery Charge

A Chattanooga man who earlier served time for an attempted first-degree murder is now facing an armed robbery count. Garion Devilliar Lewis Jr., 33, of 6409 Rosemary Dr., is charged with aggravated robbery as well as drug and gun counts. In an incident on May 9, a man who no longer lives in Chattanooga said he was leaving his mother's residence on Sholar Avenue when he saw ... (click for more)

Refuting Racism

In an opinion piece, 5/18/18, Rev. Josh Woodrow referred to me and my fellow School Board member, Joe Smith, as racists and white supremacists because we spoke out against busing. I have never met or spoken with Rev. Woodrow so he knows nothing about me. The reverend obviously knows nothing about Joe Smith either. Seems one of the reverend’s hobbies is “brewing beer”. Maybe, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Please Don’t Get Numb

Several weeks ago we woke up to learn there had been another shooting in Chattanooga and the next day there were two paragraphs on the fourth page of the newspaper.  It has become so common we as a society have grown numb to it and, when a teen-aged girl in Texas said she wasn’t surprised last week when eight students and two teachers were massacred in her school some 30 miles ... (click for more)