USC’s junior point guard Courtney Jaco has been known for her three-point shot accuracy since her high school years. She went from earning a spot on the ESPN All-State Seniors first team in high school to earning Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention two years in a row and All Pac-12 Honorable Mention in college, according to USC athletics.
Playing basketball started for Jaco at the age of six when her two older brothers taught her the basics of dribbling and shooting. Her father soon signed Jaco up for a YMCA team.
With Windward High School, Jaco headed to the state championships twice, winning the title in 2012.
“My junior year, we had a group of girls that were so much more talented than everybody else,” Jaco said about the state title season.
The next season brought a change in coaches and a roster of eight players. Former assistant coach Vanessa Nygraad took the helm and found a way to bring out the talents of the players. That season, Jaco and the team “were genuinely having fun” during games.
“That won us a lot of games,” Jaco said. “There was one point where we were ranked number one in the country and I was just like ‘this is crazy, we’re playing five people literally.’”
On the team with Jaco was Jordin Canada who was one of the top high school basketball players in America. In her senior year, Jaco the record holder for 3 pointers shot in the Southern Section during a season with 142, according to the L.A. Times.
Despite having one of the highest amounts of three pointers in a season for the Windward school, people had doubts of Jaco being able to play for the Women of Troy.
“People weren’t sure that my game would translate into the college level,” she said.
Jaco entered USC when the women’s basketball team acquired former Trojan legend Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. Transitioning to college was tough for Jaco who tried to figure out how to balance athletic and academic obligations.
“When I first got here, everything kind of hit me in the mouth,” Jaco said. “My body was sore, I was tired, I was trying to find time where I could nap and do homework.”
The team had many veteran players and Jaco had to learn how to display her talent with in the amount of playing time she was allotted. In her sophomore year Jaco’s playing time doubled going from 13.3 minutes per game to 27.1 minutes.
Jaco chose USC so her family can attend games regularly. Her family motivates her to continue playing basketball.
“A big reason why I came to USC is so that my family could come to my games,” Jaco said. “Just being able to come out and play in front of them every Friday [and] Sunday is huge for me. To know that they’re watching and they have my best interest.”
Jaco is graduating at the end of this year and will return the women’s basketball team next year as a graduate student in Communications Management. She hopes to start a non-profit organization that helps disadvantaged children.
“I’ve done a couple volunteer activities at some local non-profits around here, just talking to kids and they think I’m famous,” Jaco said. “ I didn’t really have that growing up. I just tried [to] be that for kids who don’t because I think that will go a way, it means a lot to them.”