“We knew she was a really good player, a really good person with high character and great integrity,” he said. “She comes from a really good basketball program, comes from a great family, so we knew we were going to get a well-rounded student-athlete in Jayla.
“We knew she was going to be somebody that was academically ambitious,” Smith added. “We knew she was going to be somebody who competed hard, had a great attitude and high character, and that’s what we look for in our program—she embodied all of those things.”
Waller started in two games as a freshman at Lafayette and scored 14 points on the season.
Smith hopes to utilize her success from the Division I level and develop the homegrown star into a threat for the Lady Bobcats.
“It’s going to be a pleasure to coach her for three years,” Smith said. “Moving forward after this year, we’re looking to fill some holes, we’re looking for people to step up, we’re looking for players to take that next step, which I think will be great for Jayla with that Division I experience, and now in turn she’ll have experience playing with [Shanteona] Keys, Enisha [Donley], Belinda [Schaafsma] and Kayla [Upchurch]. I think that will be huge for her development.”
With Waller’s youth and versatility on the court, Smith believes she may be the future of the Lady Bobcats three years from now.
“We know Jayla is a great athlete—we know she has great slashing ability,” Smith said. “It’s hard to put a position on her; because, she can play multiple positions on the floor. I feel like she’s a versatile player, so there’s a spot on the floor for her. With her athleticism, she’ll allow us to get up and down the floor a little bit more, to press a little bit more and to extend our pressure. We’ll put her on other really good athletes who are good scorers on other teams—we feel like she’ll be a really good defender for us.