Local basketball star Jasmine Watson makes her debut with Washington

By: Angelo Di Carlo and Erin Logan
By: Angelo Di Carlo and Erin Logan

On the court and in court, she has kept her eye on the ball, and the end result has been nothing but success.

On Friday, a judge ruled in favor of Jasmine Watson's eligibility to play basketball for Washington High School.

Jasmine, a senior at Washington, had taken the Indiana High School Athletic Association to court over its decision to ban her from playing after transferring from Elkhart Memorial.

It took months, but she knew everything would bounce back into place.

"I woke up not knowing and I just laid in my bed all day," Watson explained live on Newscenter 16 at 6. "My mother called and told me I was playing. I came into the locker room and my teammates just jumped on me and made me want to cry."

She got the good news at 3:00 in the afternoon, and shortly after that she put on her game face. For the first time this season, Jasmine was able to show her team that she means business -- no matter what shirt she is wearing.

Last season she competed against the Panthers. Now, she's one of them.

"It went from heartbreak to hope," she says.

That is because Watson had felt more like a spectator than player -- until Friday night.

"I think I'm going to be nervous. It's my first time on the court with a new jersey on, but I'm proud to wear that jersey," she told us before the game at Adams.

You would never know she missed the first eight contests on the court, because of legal matters in court.

Watson scored 15 points, including the first two of the game. Fellow standout Skylar Diggins made it a point to get Jasmine the first basket of the game to let Jasmine know her teammates are behind her.

Washington cruised to the 92-10 win. Diggins led all scores with 27 points.

Months ago, the Indiana High School Athletic Association ruled Jasmine ineligible to play for Washington, saying she moved primarily for athletic reasons.

She is considered one of the areas best players, and is verbally committed to play at UMass next fall.

Jasmine's mother, Valerie Watson, explains, "I was losing my house. I had to move and I tried it in Elkhart. It was getting harder and harder."

Valerie says that, throughout the battle, Jasmine has been a devoted daughter and friend to her teammates on both sides.

"All her friends are still the same. Her teammates still talk to her. Parents in the stands have known she never wanted to leave or leave the teammates. We're fine with the other coaches," Valerie reassures.

She says it's a different story with the head coach at Elkhart Memorial.

"I'm trying to figure out why he took this personal to do this to her. I really don't understand," Valerie says.

"I'd just go in my room and cry and pray," Jasmine admits. "I went to church a lot."

Valerie explains, "I wasn't worried about the judge. I was worried about what God would do. God knew we were telling the truth."

Valerie says she had a strong case. She referred to court documents showing that one of Elkhart's coaches offered Jasmine a place to stay if she would stay on their team.

"They wanted to know why we wouldn't take them up on their offer versus why are they offering," she says.

While her daughter shines on the court, Valerie may be making her way into court on a different side.

"I learned a lot. I'm thinking about being a paralegal," she reveals.

Valerie hopes to one day have the chance to ask Elkhart's head coach why it came to all of this.

We left a message for Elkhart's athletic director. He did not return our call.

"I'm just overwhelmed," Jasmine explains. "I just want to thank God, my teammates, and the community. Without them none of this would have been possible."

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