There were a lot of factors involved with Jaylyn Sherrod’s decision on whether or not to return to the Colorado women’s basketball team for a fifth and final season.
Attending the women’s Final Four in Dallas — just one week after she helped CU to its first Sweet 16 in 20 years — may have sealed the deal, however.
“It drove me and it also just showed me the capabilities and how opportunities like that come once in a lifetime,” the Buffs’ point guard said. “For me it’ll be my last go-round anyway so, yeah, it was a great atmosphere and for a player like me it just gets you hungry to want to experience it for yourself.”
Sherrod and the Buffs weren’t far off this past year. Under the direction of head coach JR Payne, CU has dramatically improved over the past several years, with Sherrod being the catalyst. After ending a nine-year NCAA Tournament drought in 2022, the Buffs (25-9) won a game in the tourney for the first time in 20 years in 2023, and then won another. An 87-77 loss to eventual runner-up Iowa ended the run.
Last season was Sherrod’s fourth at CU, but the NCAA granted all players from the 2020-21 campaign an extra year of eligibility and she chose to take advantage of it.
“It’s a great opportunity,” she said. “This is another chance for me to go out there and do what I love and be with the people I love and play the game with a team that has pretty much become family to me. I’m excited to see how next year’s gonna go.”
Academically, the decision was a slam-dunk for Sherrod. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in three years and then added a master’s in organizational leadership this year. Coming back gives her an opportunity to obtain a second master’s degree, either in forensics or criminology.
Sherrod has thoughts of coaching, but is also interested in criminology.
“I’m always thinking about what’s next and always thinking about just putting myself in the best position to be successful in whatever I do,” she said. “I kind of wanted to do different things and both have been a huge interest of mine since I was a kid. … I just like to give myself options so I’m never just stuck on one thing and just different avenues to go.”
While setting herself up for post-graduate success, Sherrod also isn’t done on the court.
This past season, she averaged a career-best 11.3 points per game and earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors. She was also on the Pac-12 all-defensive team for the second time. She added career highs in total assists (167), steals (78), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.88), field goal percentage (.409) and 3-point percentage (.309).
Sherrod is one of only five players in CU history with at least 1,000 points (1,047), 450 assists (473) and 200 steals (201).
Adding to her individual totals doesn’t matter much to Sherrod, though. She’s eager to make another NCAA Tournament run with almost the same core of players. CU returns four starters and eight of the 10 players from the rotation this past season. Each of the top five scorers are back.
“Last year was a great year for us,” Sherrod said. “We took a huge step for the program, but I feel like there’s so much more we’re capable of, what we can do, so I was like, why not come back to see if we can go even further? The goal is to go further and set new standards and set new achievements.”
After CU’s loss to Iowa, Sherrod took about a week off, but was right back in the gym after the Final Four.
“You get out of shape faster than you get back in shape, so I like to keep moving,” she said.
Sherrod has learned how to take care of her body, but said working on her body to stay healthy is her top priority this offseason. She also hopes to improve her shooting and leadership skills for a team that will welcome six newcomers.
“I’m excited,” she said. “It’s a lot of new faces, a lot of new things, but we also got our core of veterans that’s been here and that’s been through it all, so I’m really excited.”