In a freshman season that saw her seize the starting job at point guard, Colorado’s Jaylyn Sherrod proved to be one of the top young players in the Pac-12 Conference.
With her sophomore season about three weeks away, she feels like a different and better player.
“I’m shooting the ball a lot better, more confidently, and just being an overall confident player,” Sherrod said. “Last year has really helped me.”
Sherrod, a 5-foot-7 guard from Birmingham, Ala., averaged 9.9 points and 5.1 assists per game a year ago, but she made just 34.1 percent of her shots, including 25.9 percent from 3-point range.
In the first two weeks of preseason practice, Sherrod has found her shooting touch.
“The biggest difference in Jaylyn on the court, she’s shooting the ball really well,” head coach JR Payne said. “She’s shooting over 50 percent from 3 in all live segments, which she definitely didn’t do last year. She’s very confident in all areas.
“I think she’s always been pretty confident with the ball in her hand and being aggressive and being able to break down a defense, but right now I’m seeing confidence shooting the ball from the 3-point line, which is huge.”
Perhaps even more important is that Sherrod is more comfortable around her teammates, settling in as a college student and leader.
“J spent a lot of time working on building relationships with her teammates and spending time with her teammates,” Payne said. “Last year, coming from such a different place and being a freshman and playing a lot, there was a lot of new things being thrown at her. I think she’s really settled into being a leader for this ballclub and setting the tone, setting the example for what a true competitor looks like day in and day out.”
Sherrod spent the early part of the offseason focusing on opening up with her teammates and being more vocal. That’s paying off now.
“I’m just being more confident and vocal, shooting the ball better and just being an overall better teammate,” she said.
CU has six newcomers, including four freshmen, and Sherrod felt it was important for her to help them in their transition.
“I know how it feels,” she said of being a freshman. “Just being that vocal presence and being that person you can talk to.”
Sherrod said remote schooling has been a challenge and the balance between school, practices, Zoom meetings and tutoring sessions hasn’t been easy. So far, however, she’s been able to find that balance and was thrilled when the Pac-12 announced that basketball season would start in November.
In August, the Pac-12 announced all sports competition would be put on hold until at least January because of the coronavirus pandemic, but reversed course in September.
“I think it’s a good thing to be back,” she said. “I really missed these guys.
“Everybody has stepped up their game, vocally and actual playing basketball, everybody has stepped up their game. I’m just happy and excited to see where this team is going to go this year.”
Payne told Buffzone on Wednesday that the Buffs have finalized their three-game non-conference schedule and will open the season Nov. 25 against Division II Western State at CU Events Center.
“We’re really excited,” Payne said. “We feel like, honestly, Western is one of the best D-II teams in the western United States. Our kids are excited to know that there is a game on the schedule and it will be played. Good Lord willing, we will play it, so that’s very exciting.”
The Buffs will also host Air Force on Nov. 28 and visit Denver on Dec. 8. Payne said CU will have two Pac-12 games before facing Denver. The Pac-12 schedule has been completed, but not released. Each team will play 22 conference games, including two each against the other 11 teams.