03/20/05 — Ashelyn James -- Women's Basketball Player of the Year

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Ashelyn James -- Women's Basketball Player of the Year

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on March 20, 2005 2:10 AM

A team-player. A leader by example. Excellent in the classroom.

The total package.

All clichés about the ideal student-athlete ring true when describing Goldsboro senior post performer Ashelyn James -- the 2004-2005 News-Argus Women's Basketball Player of the Year.

James is her class Valedictorian, posting a 4.85 grade point average, with two of the most prestigious academic scholarships at both the University of North Carolina (Morehead) and N.C. State (Park) in front of her.

"I really want to focus on business and technology and focus on being just a student," James said. "I've been an athlete and student since elementary school. The scholarship offers came at the perfect time. I still have a hard time explaining it.

"I'm in a win-win situation whichever way I chose."

Her command in the paint was impressive too.

In her third year as one of the team's captains, James recorded 13 double-doubles in 30 games, averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds per game for Gladys McClary's Cougars.

In a three-year period, she scored 2,387 points and grabbed 796 boards as Goldsboro marched to the Class 3-A N.C. High School Athletic Association Eastern Regional three-straight years, going a whopping, 79-11.

With improvement across the Eastern Carolina Conference, the Lady Cougars run of 41 league wins, including tournament play, looked even more impressive by the end of the season.

"It's an amazing feeling. To do that three years in a row with the record we had is phenomenal," said James, also the ECC Player of the Year. "We've made history, so I'm very proud to be a part of this team. We overcame adversity. We lost one of our starters and had multiple injuries from our support group. The fact that we overcame that and still got through, I'm very proud of that."

Sure, James wasn't alone during the runs -- winning with the likes of guards Chantae Bryant, Clintoria Bryant and Chevoya Jackson. Jackson, a junior, along with freshman center Carmille Early were also all-ECC selections this season. She's well aware and thankful of the talent and quality coaching surrounding her.

"Each one was so different. Chantae was a play-maker, Clintoria was a great passer and Chevoya was a commander on the court," James said. "They brought the best out in me and the rest of the team. We couldn't have had a better set of guards."

McClary, who played in the post for talented Goldsboro teams in the early 1980's, understands the importance of consistent effort in the paint.

"Good guards are hard to find, but if you have good guards coming up you can replace them. A good post player is a lot harder to replace," said. McClary, the News-Argus and ECC Coach of the Year. "Some post players may be tall, but can't catch or can't run the floor. Ashelyn could catch, run the floor, rebound and box out. It's going to be very difficult to replace her. I believe basketball is played from the inside out and not the outside in."

James not only played AAU basketball to hone her skills in the off-season. She lettered on the Cougar volleyball team and track and field squad -- winning multiple MVP honors in both of those sports as well.

"She committed herself to do that. She knew that she had to get herself in better shape before basketball season started," said McClary.
"She would run before volleyball season, then she would apply herself during volleyball. She knew what she had to do to be a good basketball player.

"A lot of players won't push themselves to be in better shape. She wanted to do that."

James, who had to sit out her freshman season due to Wayne County transfer policy, will leave Goldsboro with a great deal of pride.

"My Dad (Elvin James) used to tell me about the pride of playing at Goldsboro, but I never imagined I would feel this good," James said. "They say, 'you can't hide that Cougar pride.' It's definitely true."