Words by Sajada Bonner, as told to Christian Mordi / @thedribbledrop on Instagram and Twitter
I started taking basketball seriously around the 7th grade. I noticed around that time that my skills began to come together some and I had some pretty connected people around me pushing me further within the game. Around that time I met my high school coach at St. John Vianney as well.
St. John Vianney is a school and program like no other. It forces you to work hard on your game and grow as a player. When I came into SJV, I was a post player and now I am a guard. That’s all due to Dawn, who has been like a mother figure to me. She always pushes you no matter what. The community at Vianney also loves the girls basketball program. They always come out and support us. It’s a great place to grow as a young basketball player.
I play AAU basketball for the NYC Exodus. Playing for Exodus is a family feel. Playing for Thomas is great. He cares for you beyond the court. He is there for you no matter what. He’s one of the top coaches I ever had. It was hard at times playing for the program as they are far away in New York, but it was worth it. Coach always made it work. I would suggest to any young kid to be on Exodus.
Playing on the Nike EYBL circuit is amazing. It puts you on a high stage to showcase your talent. I’ve never had an EYBL game where it wasn’t filled with coaches from countless division one programs. Nike also took care of us. We had plenty of sneakers and merch. The competition level is high as well.
Last summer was when I started to see an uptick in my recruitment. We were playing a team from San Antonio and they had one of the top recruits in the nation. A lot of people were at the game. I shot the ball very well and I think that opened the eyes of a couple coaches on the next level on my game. I felt like I showed I could knock down shots and I had other talents that will grow.
I didn’t announce a top five schools. I wanted to keep the process really between myself and my family. I wouldn’t say I had a top five but I would say I had a top three. In the end it came down to Columbia, Quinnipiac and UMass.
In the end, I decided to go to Quinnipiac. I loved coach Fabbri. Everytime I talked to her on the phone we connected more and more. When I came to the campus it was the icing on the cake. It was beautiful. I meshed with the players on the team as well. I also love their playing style. I felt like that meshed well with my skills as well. I knew I will do well on that team and in that league. Coach Dawn and Thomas guided me through the process. I knew it was the right fit for me.
I want to thank my mom. She’s been there with me every step of the way. She’s at every game. To the younger kids, don’t be afraid to play anywhere against anyone. You’re recruiting process will be based on how hard you work. Don’t let anyone push you around and tell you that you aren’t good enough to go anywhere. Get in the gym and put in the work.
Sajada a.k.a. J-Money