Angelina College head women’s basketball coach Byron Coleman has said his focus in 2021 will be getting back to what makes his teams so dangerous: Havoc-wreaking defense. It’s been a hallmark of every Coleman team since he first took over the program.
He added a big piece of his defensive game plan with the addition of Jayiona Cobbs, an extremely athletic and versatile player from Bloom Township High School in Chicago Heights (IL) who recently signed her letter of intent to join the lady Roadrunners in the fall of 2021.
“Coming off our last season in 2019, our team wasn’t as good defensively as we want to be,” Coleman said. “We weren’t as good in man-to-man, and we played a lot of zone. Our kids excelled at the zone, and we did what we had to do to fit the team, but we’ve got to get back to being able to play more man-to-man, apply pressure and get into those passing zones to help create turnovers.
“That’s where Jayiona comes into play. She’ll be a perfect fit in our defensive scheme.”
The 5’9” Cobbs possesses the overall length and wing span to block passing lanes and shutdown opposing scorers. Over her first two seasons of high school basketball, she focused more on defense and rebounding; after the pandemic canceled her junior season, Cobbs returned for her senior campaign with a renewed focus on scoring, averaging 15 points per game this past season.
Cobbs has also shown the ability to play multiple positions – another reason Coleman sees her making an immediate impact.
“Jayiona’s played three different positions on the court, from the 1 to the 3,” Coleman said. “We need to be a little more versatile as a team than we’ve been over the past year or two, and Jayiona is going to help us get there. She’s got length and athleticism, and she’s very smooth in the open court.”
Cobbs, who visited the AC campus in January, said her decision came down to rapport with her future head coach.
“I based my decision on the relationship I built with Coach Coleman, along with his reputation for developing players to prepare them for the next level,” Cobbs said. “Another reason for choosing AC is because I feel that here, I’ll have a chance to become more versatile on the offensive side and not feel limited to one position.
“I know Angelina College has been the national championship tournament and always makes the playoffs, and I know they got the short end of the stick with the pandemic, so I’m really excited about helping bring the program back to its previous success.”
Cobbs credited her high school coach Lauren Foster with developing a mindset geared toward versatility.
“Coach (Foster) told me not to limit myself to one thing, and that I should learn all the positions on the floor to maximize playing time,” Cobbs said.
Cobbs’ mindset combined with the skill set has Coleman seeing big things in store for his future Lady ‘Runner.
“We definitely need that lockdown defender and the kid who finds ways to stay involved in the game, and not just with scoring,” Coleman said. “Jayiona’s going to continue to add to that equation for us.
“I see in Jayiona a young player with the potential to leave Angelina College as a Division I basketball player,” Coleman added. “As long as her game continues to mature on the floor, the sky’s the limit for her.”
Cobbs is the daughter of Andrea and James Cobbs.