WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Mobley steps into spotlight

Mar. 18—DANVILLE — Danville Area Community College sophomore guard Alexus Mobley has waited for a season like this.

After two years of hanging around the top players in the Mid-West Athletic Conference and Region 24, Mobley took her place at the top and made history for the Lady Jaguars.

Thanks to her 21.6 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, 2.2 assists and 2.9 steals, she was Player of the Year in the MWAC and Region 24 in helping DACC reach its first-ever NJCAA Division II National Championship berth.

The awards were a culmination of Mobley's hard work according to DACC women's basketball head coach Erika Harris.

"Every year, Lex has put in the work to be the player that she now. Nothing has been given to her," DACC coach Erika Harris said. "She got all-conference All-Region second team her freshman year and I thought she underachieved. Her second year, she was All-Conference and All-Region and I still thought she underachieved. This year, she took everything seriously, worked on her weaknesses and got what she deserved, which is Player of the Year."

The hard work for Mobley really started when she started to play the game at an early age.

"I started playing because of my dad," Mobley said. "He wasn't in my life a lot and I saw all the attention she gave my older sister when she was in high school, so I decided to play. I started in the fifth grade and when I got to seventh grade, I really stared to love basketball. After middle school, I played one JV game in high school and then I started playing varsity and it went up from there."

Mobley played at Franklin Central High School. In her senior year, the Flashes won a regional title, but her main asset was her defense and it was something that Harris would see in scouting her.

"I saw her athleticism first and I saw that she was capable of making the 3-point shot," Harris said. "The one thing that I loved was that she was a dog on defense. That is what I wanted to build this program, Players who are dogs on defense."

"We were a pretty decent team. I don't think I was good as I was now," Mobley said. "I think I was behind other people. I don't think I was ever one of those star players in the spotlight. My role on the team was more on defense and I realized my offensive game has to change going into this level.

"I had always been a defensive player, so my biggest thing to work on was offense and ever year that I have been here, I have gotten better and more confident and a lot stronger offensively and a lot better in reading defenses. The biggest thing right now is I am working on me."

When Mobley visited Danville, it was Harris' sales pitch that sealed the deal.

"My recruiting process was slow, I think I had like one or two offers," Mobley said. "I was already committed to a different school, but I wasn't happy with the decision. I saw campus, but I didn't see much of the team because it was the Covid year. She was convincing with her words and she told me what I could mean with this team and how she can help me develop as a person and as a player and she was really convincing. Everything that she promised me came true ... I am here, so everything worked out."

After her first two years, Mobley decided to stay for her third year and it was the right decision as she sharpened up her game.

"My first year, I didn't see the potential at all and last year, I was still behind a lot of people," Mobley said. "Last Summer I worked real hard and coach was telling me that you can do it but I still didn't see it. I remember the practices going into the first game, I was crying after them because I was so nervous. We got to our first game against Moberly and then Vincennes and I was so nervous. As soon as I got on the court, I had to settle in. In the first gmae, I had 20 against Moberly and 25 against Vincennes and then I knew I could do this.

"By the middle of the season, I was like, if I don't get player of the year, then it is rigged because I have worked so hard."

"The scary part is that she hasn't reached what she can be in basketball," Harris said. "She still has a lot of celling left as a player, so while we see her as Player of the Year, this is honestly the tip of the iceberg of where Lex can go. Wherever she winds up after DACC, she is going to be at her best and she is continuing to grow. In her senior year of college, she is going to be way better than she is now."

Getting the Player of the Year was one thing, but helping the Lady Jaguars to its first ever Region 24 Championship was another. Mobley had 20 points in the 75-52 win over John Wood in the quarterfinals, 25 points with eight rebounds and five assists in a 69-56 win over Parkland in the semifinals and six points, six blocks, six rebounds and five assists in the 65-62 title win over Rend Lake.

"The feeling is so amazing and I can't put it into words," Mobley said. "Seeing everyone come together and we started practicing and playing, I was thinking that everything is coming together. We were so close last year to getting to the championship and it was a goal of ours to get back. We worked so hard and I was putting confidence into the team. Every day, it was me making my teammates better and my teammates making me better. It was nothing but work and it feels great to be part of something like this. I consider that we have done this as a family because I don't accomplish anything without this."

"I wish I had four years and a graduate year with her," Harris said. "I got three and I am greedy for more because she is so coachable and she loves her teammates. She is a coaches' dream. What you see in the games is her in practice and that is hard to find. She had the effort and attitude and she has gotten past the point of a good player to a great player."

After the Lady Jaguars got the announcement on Tuesday that they were the No. 12 seed in the tournament and will face No. 5 Harcum College, they have been working hard in practice.

"Practices has been amazing. My girls are ready to go get it," Harris said. "They are not in a mindset to show up and say we made it to nationals. As a group, they are excited to go and compete for a national title. Our girls don't feel they are an underdog, they feel whoever they play, they can compete with at a high level. That is how they have been practicing and they are ready to step up and compete."

The Bears are 28-2 and are led by Amaris Baker, who is the top scorer in the nation with 27.5 per game this season.

"They are a tough-nosed team and they want to speed you up defensively. They have really good guard play so we are excited to play them," Harris said. "No. 3 (Baker) is the top scorer in the nation and No. 0 (Jasmyn Jeffries) and No. 1 (T'Nyah Riggins) are solid guards who are able to lead them and they have some forwards as well. They have shooters that complement them and play inside out. It should be a good challenge for us."

Both Harris and Mobley say they are ready for the challenge that Harcum will bring.

"We are just going to go out and play our game and stay in our identity," Harris said. "We know we are the 12th seed. Our girls play free, but they know what they are doing and we are going to go in and put our best foot forward. We are excited about the opportunity and we are going all the way for this thing. My girls worked hard and we will continue to be one percent better and let the results work for themselves."

"We are going to get after it for certain," Mobley said. "I don't put anything past any team, but I don't think they are anything that we have seen before and there is no adversity that we can overcome, we just have to stick together, we will do fine. We will have to lock in on defense. Other than that, we are going to go get it. We have the pieces, we have the keys, so I think we can go ahead and take it."

The Lady Jaguars will travel to Port Huron, Mich. on Sunday and will start play against Harcum on Wednesday at noon in the final first-round game of the tournament.