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Posted On: 08/16/18 8:52 AM
Some families do whatever it takes to give their child the best opportunity to further their education and athletic career, and while everyone thinks they do the most some situations are simply different. For Walsingham rising senior and reigning TCIS Player of the Year Jaylin Stewart, that included leaving his family and home to live with a host family so he could go to a better school.
“I live in Petersburg, but I go to Walsingham because it was a better fit for me to get a good education as well as play basketball,” Stewart said. “Walsingham isn’t really a basketball school though, and a handful of people have told me I have kind of put the school on the map. I wouldn’t say I’m underrated, I’d say I’m unknown,”
Going from Petersburg to Williamsburg is a big change, but it’s something Stewart has gotten used to and he’s embraced the school and the basketball program. He helped guide them to one of their best seasons in school history, winning the TCIS and taking them to the VISAA Division 2 State Semifinals.
While he came up short of the ultimate goal, he still did a great job of putting not just the program, but himself on the map as one of the best lead guards in the state.
“Winning POY in the TCIS wasn’t even a goal of mine,” Stewart said. “When I won TCIS player of the year I was happy, it definitely felt like the hard work paid off but I was still hungry. I felt like I proved myself a little by being selected first team All State, that was a blessing. If I could’ve led us to the state championship I think I would’ve got State Player of the Year. That’s on my list for this year.”
While he still feels a little unknown, Stewart is heading in the right direction. After his great junior campaign, he came back home to play for Team Richmond Garner Road, who played in front of a number of college coaches throughout the summer.
Recently, Stewart has picked up offers from division two Chestnut Hill and Lincoln College in the same week. They aren’t the only ones who have been interested however, as he’s been in contact with Francis Marion and Millersville as well, both of which are division two schools who recruit Virginia heavily. Over the summer he also attended elite camps at Campbell, Winthrop and Bucknell, and picked up interest from Longwood.
“I’m looking for the best fit in academics first. My Mom and Grandma have always preached that to me. So a good education first, somewhere that has my major of Business/Finance and I would like to minor in communications. Then the best fit on the court, a place I feel wanted. Distance doesn’t mean much to me since I’m hardly home now so I will feel comfortable anywhere, geographically speaking.”
As for what makes him such a special player, no one describes it better than Stewart himself. A big, strong guard, he not only is able to use his size to his advantage in high school, but it gives him a leg up when it comes to getting ready for college. His mix of size, skill and high IQ is what separates him from other guards in his class.
“I would say I make the right plays, I’m like a coach on the floor and I’m the ultimate competitor. I do what I’m asked to do to get the win. I’m a big guard that loves getting to the rim and either finishing or kicking to my teammates, and I can also create for my teammates at a high level. I am working on getting a more consistent outside jumpsuit too, and I have a great work ethic.”
With his stock trending up and Walsingham looking to build on a terrific season, expect Stewart to make even more noise both during the season and on the recruitment trail moving forward.