WYE MILLS - If someone looked up the statistics of Chesapeake College women’s basketball player Jayla Irvin this season on the school’s website, the Skipjack supporter may have come away surprised.
The 5-foot-8 sophomore has led the team in rebounding for most of the season.
Grabbing all those rebounds is quite an accomplishment for someone who goes against rugged players several inches taller and with a weight advantage.
Now, she ranks second on the team, averaging 7.9 behind leader and freshman forward Na'kayla Smith.
Irvin, who leads the team in scoring, was especially dominant on the boards early in the season. She grabbed 13 rebounds in a 65-61 victory over Frederick on November 23 and five days earlier, she totaled 10 in a 70-63 triumph against Harcum College of Pennsylvania.
“She is an aggressive player and goes after balls,” Chesapeake women’s basketball coach Gwen Barnes said. “She is really tough under the basket. As soon as the ball goes up, she is going after it. Most guards don’t lead your team in rebounding and scoring. It’s abnormal. Usually one or the other, and not both.”
Irvin puts quite a bit of emphasis on rebounding.
“It’s more wanting the ball than being physical,” she said.
Irwin isn’t intimidated by players who are several inches taller than her and outweigh her.
“If I am shorter than someone in the paint, I just try to beat them to the spot when it comes down,” Irwin said. “You can box them out all day, but you have to be at the right spot. The rebounding just came along. The scoring takes a lot more work.”
Irwin considers herself a better scorer than a rebounder. The proof?
She ranks third nationally in scoring among National Junior College Athletic Association Division II leaders.
Irwin is averaging 23.2 points per game to help the Skipjacks to an 8-5 record.
“She is an all-around player,” Barnes said. “She runs the floor well and in transition. She’s an inside-outside offensive threat. She attacks the basket and finishes well. She absorbs contact well and finishes strong even with the contact. That’s hard to do. She is probably one of the best players I have seen do that.”
Irvin has had some memorable games. She scored 40 points in a 108-44 thumping of Alleghany Community College on January 15.
In the next game four days later, Irwin finished with 33 points in a 20-point loss to Prince George’s Community College.
“It just shows I have grown as a player since my freshman year,” says Irwin, a graduate of Annandale High in Northern Virginia. “I feel it’s a big accomplishment for me. Compared to when I was in high school, I was never that leading scorer or top player.”
Barnes also raves about Irvin’s leadership skills. She’s a team co-captain.
“She is a phenomenal leader,” Barnes said. “She leads by example and is vocal. She puts the team on her back if she has to. Her attitude is a positive influence on the team and she brings a lot of energy.”
Irvin is like a second coach at times for Skipjacks. She loves to help the freshmen.
“I love giving tips to the younger in practice,” Irwin said.
Irvin’s goal is to play Division I basketball, and she has been recruited by several schools.
“I would say any college that gets Jayla will have a player who provides an immediate impact,” Barnes said.