Meet Jasmine Davidson: the new torchbearer of the surging Oregon hoops scene
As she hoists up jump shots in the hour before her teammates arrive, sweat trickling down her face, she's not thinking about the makes and misses. It's all about the yeses and the noes.
Clackamas High School rising sophomore Jasmine "Jazzy" Davidson is refining her jump shot — ensuring she keeps her balance as she rises up, then raising the release point above her head as she bounces back and forth between the elbows of the free throw line.
After she knocks down a string of jumpers, a few shots drift slightly and roll off the rim. The sounds echo through the nearly empty gym.
"Yes!" Angie Sun, Davidson's Northwest Select AAU coach, yells.
The result, a miss, doesn't matter. Sun likes that Davidson's feet are squared, her left hand catches the ball on the laces and she holds her follow-through.
It's Davidson's shooting that will continue to unlock the skillset that has her perched atop ESPN's national 2025 women's basketball recruiting class. Last winter, as a freshman at Clackamas, Davidson averaged 22.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 4.1 steals per game. She was named the Oregon Girls Basketball Gatorade Player of the Year, the Mount Hood Conference Player of the Year and earned a first team all-state selection. She spearheaded a Cavaliers team that ended the season with a 27-3 record and finished third in the Class 6A state basketball tournament.
Around 1 p.m., as the Rosemont Ridge Middle School gym comes alive with the rhythmic noises of bouncing balls and the squeaks of basketball shoes hitting the court, Davidson, Sun and Northwest Select assistant coach Ben Calabrese are zeroing in on the little things. They're squeezing everything they can out of the final minutes ahead of the team's Sunday practice.
"Let's get three yeses in a row before we finish up," Sun tells her.
Given a talent of this magnitude, the little things are vital as the 15-year-old adapts to her ever-evolving game.
A year after her national breakout at the Blue Star Camp in Florida, Davidson has ascended as the torchbearer of the surging Oregon hoops scene, where she'll stay for the foreseeable future and be given a chance to write a new chapter in the state's history.
'There's something unicorn-like about her'
At 6-foot-1, Davidson runs the court like a gazelle, her long strides eating up the court faster than defenses can adjust. Her mother, Monica, a track athlete for the University of Oregon from 1990-95, wishes she would have given the sport a try herself.
"She told me, 'Mom, you're the runner. That's not my thing; that's your thing,'" Monica said.
And Monica has to admit: Basketball has worked swimmingly for her daughter.
"There is something unicorn-like about her, just in terms of how she moves," said Susan King Borchardt, a WNBA trainer who has worked with players such as Sue Bird, Nneka Ogwumike, Breanna Stewart and Kelsey Plum, among others, and helps train Davidson in movement and injury-prevention.
When Davidson began middle school, so too did her work with Borchardt, a former point guard for the Minnesota Lynx. She recognizes talent when she sees it and has been integral in helping Davidson realize her athletic potential while teaching her how to invest in her body.
Davidson finishes tough shots through bigger defenders, and over taller ones. Thanks to her improving jump shot, and a basketball IQ which transcends her years, she can operate from any spot on the court. On defense, her long frame and innate instincts allow her to snuff out opponents.
Calling her the heart of the team doesn't capture her brilliance. She's the connective tissue holding it together.
Last month, Davidson became one of 12 players to receive an invite to Team USA's Under-18 three-on-three tryouts for the World Cup team.
"That was insane," she said. "I'm still kind of in shock about it, because that's something I've wanted to do since I was really young."
A trove of talent
Early high school is a volatile time for teenagers, when jealousy and envy can drive stakes between individuals. Yet the Clackamas players — more than half of whom double as players for Northwest Select — idolize one another.
"We don't just play on the same team; we hang outside (of basketball)," Davidson said. "It's really cool to have people that are like-minded and have the same goals surrounding me all the time."
On this particular Sunday, Davidson isn't the only player with legitimate Division I talent in the gym. Rising sophomore Sara Barhoum, the team's best 3-point shooter, and one of Davidson's closest friends, has already collected offers from programs such as Montana State and San Francisco. Ava Heiden, a junior post from Sherwood High School, has been ranked as high as No. 47 in the nation for her class.
Of the nearly 30 players between the three Northwest Select teams, Sun said 20-plus of them have a chance of receiving a collegiate basketball scholarship — and that all 10 members of their top team could feasibly play at the next level.
The Cavaliers — who started five freshmen for five of their games in the 2021-22 season — and Northwest Select are reaping the rewards of their most talented rosters in nearly a decade, perhaps longer.
"It's the most talent that I've ever had the opportunity to coach," said Sun, who is approaching a decade and a half as the program's founder.
Davidson will be the first to tell you that her talented teammates have been instrumental in her rise. Without them, she'd face infinitely more intense defensive attention — double teams and perhaps, at times, even triple teams.
"It really opens up a lot of opportunities to exploit some defenses," Clackamas head coach Korey Landolt said. "They leave one person open, they're in trouble."
In turn, Davidson's elite skills open the floor for those around her and cover up for their mistakes.
"Wherever she is on the court, everyone's eyes are going to be on her, and that allows everyone else to open up off the ball just because of the fact that she can shoot that three now," said Calabrese, the Northwest Select assistant coach.
Not lost on Calabrese is the fact that much of the Clackamas group has been playing together since early middle school and, in some cases, beyond. There's a cache of team chemistry from which to draw.
Even in her first year of basketball as a kindergartner, Davidson played up a year — and she has ever since. In sixth grade, she and her teammates faced eighth graders.
"The parents who would sit in the stands and watch these little kids would be like, 'Why are we playing these little kids?'" Monica said. "And as soon as that ball was put into play they would get pretty quiet because (the girls) were like little piranhas."
As the group continues to gel, it's allowing Northwest Select to do something it hasn't truly been able to do in some time. They now have a top team they can roll out nationally and compete with at every tournament, Calabrese said.
As Oregon lagged behind other states in the reintegration of high school sports amidst the pandemic, Northwest Select was forced to look towards neighboring states such as Arizona, Utah and Idaho for competition last summer.
That's where Davidson's name carried the most weight. She's becoming an ambassador for basketball in the state of Oregon.
The golden platform
Both Clackamas and Northwest Select's playstyles are predicated upon up-tempo, attacking basketball. Even their post players enjoy the chance to handle the ball and run in transition.
Sun also demands complete composure from her teams. Sometimes that means they'll spend a large chunk of practice working solely on communication in transition.
"See it, say it. Hear it, repeat it," she'll tell them.
In other moments, Sun urges her team to avoid trash talk during games.
"I'm very relaxed, which I don't think comes out on the court because I'm straight-faced," Davidson said. "There's no emotion."
In a way, the styles are at odds with one another.
It might best be described as controlled chaos.
With her demure, docile persona and game-breaking versatility, Davidson has become the figurehead.
"This kid is a generational talent and I mean that literally," Sun said. "She (embodies) the brand of basketball we play … I've never seen anybody that does what she does on the court, and I've had the opportunity to coach some really, really high-level players."
At a summer tournament held in Cincinnati, Ohio in early July an opposing player accidentally stepped on the back of one of Davidson's shoes, giving her what Sun called a "flat tire." The shoe slid down her foot, but was tied tight enough that it stayed half way on. Davidson motioned to the bench for a timeout, but with Northwest Select retreating on defense, and without possession of the ball, Sun couldn't call one.
"Keep playing, keep playing," Sun yelled back.
Seeing Davidson's flat tire, and diagnosing it as a weakness, her opponent drove squarely towards her. Davidson sent the girl's shot flying with a two-handed, volleyball-esque block. Somehow, Davidson retained possession and, with one shoe still on the cusp of falling off her foot, drove the ball the length of the court before spinning off her defender and knocking down an off-balance jump shot.
When at last a timeout was called, Davidson hobbled off the court to pull the shoe back on.
"Maybe you should just leave it," Sun joked.
Those lighting-in-a-bottle plays, and that high-octane brand of basketball, have Northwest Select raising eyebrows across the country. At a recent tournament in Dallas, Texas, they gained a following of photographers and videographers, naturally.
"They're just turning and going, 'What's going on over here?' And then they're following us around filming us," Sun said. "It looks like we were hiring camera crews and all that. It's so organic."
Still, the fact that the program is garnering this attention is as paramount as it is unusual.
Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) has taken over much of the AAU scene, giving a host of states their own teams with sponsored shoe deals. Washington has a shoe circuit team: the Northwest Magic. California has four, including Cal Stars — the state's most prominent team and former home of University of Oregon turned New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu. It's now known as Sabrina Ionescu Elite.
Oregon? Not one.
"There's this golden platform, if you will, for 'elite players' on national teams, and Oregon doesn't have that platform," Sun said. "It's a huge disservice to the girl's game here. (EYBL programs) get all this coverage that little guys like us don't have. And if we're not doing it ourselves, or we're not hiring people to do it, nobody knows."
EYBL circuits are a hotbed for college coaches, scouts and media. Want to make a name for yourself? Dominate at one of the many summer tournaments. The publicity and attention that EYBL tournaments spark has dragged some of Oregon's most talented high schoolers out of state in search of notoriety.
"When I first started playing basketball, ESPN didn't really look out on the West Coast, specifically Oregon and Washington," Davidson said. "Even when people find out I'm from Oregon, they're like, 'Oh, Oregon, hmm.'"
Sofia Bell, the nation's No. 28 prospect in the class of 2023, left Jesuit High School in Portland to join Cal Stars and committed to University of Oregon last November. Likewise, four-star 2023 point guard Donoyn Hunter departed South Medford to join Cal Stars and is set to enroll in Oregon State University this fall.
Aleah Goodman and Cameron Brink — both high-profile former Oregon preps stars — departed the state in past years as well, among others.
"(Davidson's) on a similar path that I was on," said Brink, a Stanford player who attended Mountainside and Southridge high schools and became a mentor to Davidson.
For Brink, who contributed greatly to Stanford's 2021 National Championship, Cal Stars was the logical move. She had family in the Bay Area to stay with when traveling. Her mother was retired and had plentiful time to devote to the constant travel.
"It's super individual," Brink said. "I've been asked by multiple girls, 'Should I go to EYBL?' And I'm like, 'No, because you're going to find good competition wherever you go.'"
That's why Sun's program is special. It's given Davidson a foundation of talented players to grow alongside and ascend with. There's no indication she seeks the notoriety offered by West Coast shoe circuit teams.
"It's very important to me to bring up the rest of the state, because we have so much talent in the state that goes unnoticed," Davidson said.
Davidson could pave an entirely new route — one that's her own.
"In six years people could be wearing 'JD 6,' or 'Davidson Elite,'" Sun tells Davidson. "But I'm telling you, you have the gravity to be the ambassador for Oregon hoops, and now that lasts forever."
In time, Sun's prognostication could morph into a reality, but in a sport that moves as fast and shifts as radically as basketball, there's no sense in forecasting with a player of Davidson's pedigree. She's a quarter of the way through her high school career, and, while her promise has accelerated the process, there's a laundry list of boxes she'd still like to check off.
She'll contend to make the final cut at the Team USA Under-18 three-on-three team in the closing week of July — an experience she hopes could springboard her into a chance to play with the five-on-five team. McDonald's All-American honors will likely be in her near future, too. She said she'd like to add a few more Gatorade Player of the Year honors to her name, and why not a state championship with the Cavaliers to go along with it?
She'll tell you her principal focus is to keep improving, of course.
"It's a grind, and it's not easy," Davidson said. "But when you have goals and you have aspirations that you want to get to, that's just what you have to do."
For as high as the accomplishments have propelled Davidson into the stratosphere of basketball's elite, those around her are most keen to speak about her impact on others.
"There's so many little eyes on her, and she's (just starting to) realize the impact that she has the opportunity to have," Sun said. "Whether she's ready for it or not, that's part of the responsibility that comes with greatness."
Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan lives in Clackamas and has two children: a 9-year old son Alton and a 5-year-old daughter Imo. Both lionize Davidson.
"My kids recognize that they're watching one or multiple women who will very likely have an option to play the WNBA if they pursue that," Fagan said. "Just think about if Damian Lillard was a freshman in high school in your backyard and you got to watch him for four years before he went on to the national stage? That's how we feel about getting to watch Jazzy and (Barhoum) and these Clackamas girls … When you watch them play, it's poetry on the basketball court."
Fagan played at The Dalles High School and has since devoted much of her free time to consuming the game. She and her children attended nearly all of Clackamas' games last season. They sat in on some practices as well.
"Anyone who has watched Jazzy play has a hard time deciding if she's playing basketball or dancing the ballet. Imo calls Jazzy, 'a ballerina with a basketball' because she glides up and down the court like she's hearing classical music instead of squeaking shoes," Fagan wrote in a letter to the Gatorade Player of the Year Committee ahead of its decision. "My 5-year-old sits in rapt attention (no easy feat). Imo has not decided whether she will play basketball (a mother can hope), dance ballet, or something different, but she already knows that she wants to be like Jazzy."
Fagan recently purchased a small outdoor basketball hoop for her backyard in hopes of subtly nudging Imo towards the sport. Alton has been playing for several years.
Landolt, the Clackamas head coach, has experienced something similar. Her daughter Tatum will be an eighth grader next fall. On the court, Tatum will often make a move, then turn to her mother to tell her, "That's a Jazzy."
"She sees Jazzy as somebody to look up to and somebody that she can aspire to and mimic in certain ways," Landolt said.
In a short time, Davidson has touched many and given Oregon a homegrown star to latch onto.
She's got the potential to be so much more.
"She's somebody that has the opportunity and the gravity to rewrite the story for girls basketball," Sun said.
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