Delaware women’s basketball junior guard Jasmine Dickey has always been willing to work. When she was at Catonsville High School, Comets head coach Mike Mohler said she would shoot 500 shots a day in the offseason. That work ethic transferred over to Delaware, where Dickey was hard at work this offseason despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Known as more of a slasher, Dickey stayed in Newark, Del., to add a more consistent mid-range and 3-point element to her game. The hard work has paid off, as the 5-foot-10 guard has taken another step forward as a junior.
During her freshman year, Dickey averaged 7.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and was named to the Colonial Athletic Conference (CAA) All-Rookie team. As a sophomore, the 5-foot-10 guard averaged 12.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game and was named to the CAA All-Defensive team and second-team All-CAA. After being named to the preseason All-CAA first team, Dickey is averaging 23.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, which is second and fourth in the conference, respectively.
“She’s the kid that doesn’t want to come off,” Delaware head coach Natasha Adair said. “She’s the kid that even if she dives on the floor and you think she needs a break, she’s like ‘Coach, I’m good.’ She just comes in with this blue-collar mentality and ‘I’m going to be the leader, I’m going to be the example.'”
The growth is something Mohler expected when Dickey went off to college, as she could work on basketball full time. At Catonsville, Dickey scored a Baltimore County record 2,091 points and led the Comets to the MPSSAA 4A state championship in 2017.
“I knew this was going to happen,” Mohler said. “We’re a high school program, we’re not a college program. I don’t have these kids 12 months a year, and I don’t have a strength and conditioning coach. But I knew that once she got into college where they had her 12 months a year, she’s so much stronger.”
Dickey’s season started off with a bang, scoring 31 points against Division II Salem University. She’s scored at least 20 points in five of the seven games since and had 19 in another. The Blue Hens are off to a 7-1 start this year and are 4-0 in CAA play for the first time since 2012-13, when WNBA star Elena Delle Donne led Delaware to a Sweet 16.
Two of the Blue Hens’ nonconference wins came against power-conference teams, as they knocked off Pittsburgh (ACC) and St. John’s (Big East). It marked the first time since 2012-13 that the Blue Hens beat schools from both conferences. Against the Red Storm, Dickey scored 23 of her game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter.
“We were really happy with our wins,” Dickey said. “Really happy with our performance. … Everybody was very happy breaking records. That was something we were really proud of.”
As Dickey’s role has grown on the court this year, it’s also grown off the court. With the Blue Hens losing three starters to graduation, Adair needed someone to step up and fill the leadership void. Dickey has answered by leading by example and vocally. With Dickey doing everything she could to get better during a challenging offseason, that attitude started to rub off on other players.
According to Adair, most players now show up to practice 30 minutes early, following Dickey’s lead. Adair thought Dickey had the makings of a team captain before the season, and the players agreed.
“It’s awesome when you pick captains and the rest of the team knew who they were going to be,” Adair said. “When they said, ‘OK, we know it’s Jasmine because she leads and we know because she’s the example.'”
Vocal leadership has been more of a challenge, as Dickey says she not a super talkative person. Adair said she started to see Dickey grow into a leader during the summer when the team met to discuss the killing of George Floyd. According to Delaware Athletics, the team wrote letters to mayors across the state calling for police reform, and later had a face-to-face meeting with Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings along with some members of the football, volleyball and swimming and diving teams.
“She’s very passionate about things we’d done as a team,” Adair said. “And I think that allowed her to build that confidence using her voice. And just fast forward that now to the court and to practice and to games, it’s easy for her.”
As the season has gone on, Dickey has only become more comfortable in her role on the team.
“My coaches trust me, the players trust me and I have that same trust back with them,” Dickey said. “I think they have a lot of trust in me and that builds up my confidence. I feel like I can make those certain calls or tell the coaches what I see and they’ll trust my judgment on that.”
With the way Dickey has grown this year, Adair sees a future for her in the sport after her days at Delaware. That could be next year after Dickey finishes her senior season, or in two years if she opts to take the extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted all winter sports athletes in October. Dickey wants to play overseas, and Adair thinks with the steps she’s made in her game, teams will come calling.
“She works so hard,” Adair said. “That’s what we’re so proud of and that’s what’s been contagious for our team. If our best player can come in an hour, half an hour early, if every year consistently she’s gotten better and better and better, then that’s the example for our team.”
All statistics are entering Delaware’s two-game series against Hofstra Jan. 16-17.
Photo Credit: Ryan Griffith/Delaware Athletics