At the end of practice last Friday, Jasmine Weatherspoon, Marwan Miller and a few others talked about her few days left as a Bobcat. Ohio’s regular season ends Saturday, with only Mid-American Conference Tournament play likely to follow.
“Get the tissues ready on the bench!” Weatherspoon said to everyone around her.
That goes for Miller, too, who's the Ohio Director of Basketball Operations, even if it's for preventative measures.
“If I’m crying it’s tears of joy, that I’ve served my 10-year prison sentence, and I’m free,” Miller joked, who's known Weatherspoon for a decade.
When Weatherspoon shoots the ball, she shoots it in one motion.
She jumps, her shoulders relaxed and toward the basket. When she releases the ball, her arm and fingers are straight, as if she was dipping them into the ocean.
“We always say you shoot the ball straight,” Miller said. “You shoot the ball straight, you give the ball a chance.”
Weatherspoon worked with Miller on shooting after practice one day. She shoots an average of 30 jump shots after practice, and as she shot the ball, Miller kept saying “perfect.”
She was shooting it straight, giving the ball a chance. It's an aspect of her game still developing, after beginning her Ohio career as a defensive specialist and an offensive afterthought.
“She couldn’t breathe outside the paint,” Miller said. “If it was outside the paint, she didn’t have any ability to shoot the ball.”
But now she’s shooting 3-pointers better than she has her entire career and has become Ohio's secondary scoring option behind Quiera Lampkins. Along with that, the Bobcats also have an additional shooter who can spread defenses.
But even with Weatherspoon’s improved scoring ability, she still prides herself on her first strength: defense.
A former volleyball player in high school, Weatherspoon stands 6-foot-2, Ohio’s tallest player and the leader of the Bobcats’ interior defense. She ranks second in program history for blocked shots with 122.
But another trait — perhaps her best one — defines her personality. Weatherspoon is warm-hearted, and she possesses the ability to make people smile.
“She is the only one that would interrupt me in the middle of yelling at the team to ask me a question,” coach Bob Boldon said. “And not get yelled at for it.”
Weatherspoon’s ability to keep her teammates optimistic is an asset. But most of the time, she’s just trying to be a calm voice, particularly when Lampkins is being dramatic.
Weatherspoon calls Lampkins “Crazy Kiki,” noting her dramatic nature on and off the court.
“When I get in my little fits on here, she’s always the person to bring me out of it,” Lampkins said.
Weatherspoon’s ability to lighten the mood is valuable, particularly when the team is going through a lull. The Bobcats just snapped a three-game losing streak, defeating Miami 77-63 last Saturday.
And with only two games left in the regular season, Weatherspoon’s easygoing personality is appreciated.
“If we’re struggling in a game or something, she’ll say something serious, but she’ll follow it up with a nice joke,” Boesinger said.
Miller’s 10-year prison sentence, coaching Weatherspoon, is over. But he’ll continue to help her after she graduates.
Weatherspoon is grateful for him, calling him a cool guy to talk to.
The relationships Weatherspoon has created during her four years at Ohio are evident. From watching TV shows such as “Scandal,” with Lampkins and trying some new jokes on her teammates, Weatherspoon is one of Ohio’s most important pieces.
“It’s more like a family,” Weatherspoon said. “It’s always fun every day, I make the most of it.”
As Weatherspoon finished giving interviews Monday, she still needed to take a picture. She wears sports goggles, so before she posed for the picture, she ran back to the locker room to grab her glasses.
She came back out, but Boldon stopped her.
“You look good,” he said.
Weatherspoon smiled in response, walking over to the center of The Convo floor. As she prepared to pose, she smiled, dribbling the ball from side to side.
Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated that Jasmine Weatherspoon wore goggles for her portrait. She wore glasses. The story has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.