Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Week

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Sac High’s Jasmine Ware inspires her teammates and coaches with the way she plays after the obstacles she has overcome.

The expression “it takes a village to raise a child” probably couldn’t be more appropriate than in relation to the circumstances Jasmine Ware of the Sacramento High girls basketball team has faced.

When the 3.2 GPA UC Santa Barbara-bound student-athlete was a sophomore, her mother, Darlene Ware, passed away.

This year, after getting off to a solid start to begin her senior season, the 5-foot-10 guard/forward injured her knee and initially was thought to be done for the season.

Ware ended up missing 10 games on what turned out to be a bruised bone in her knee.

Now, after returning to lead the Dragons in scoring, rebounding and steals (14.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.3 steals), Ware has led the Dragons to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title game against Modesto Christian on Friday night at Power Balance Pavilion.

Not only that, but for her performances last week, this week, all season, in four years as a varsity player, plus academic excellence, community service and overcoming adversity, Ware has been chosen as this week’s ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Week.

In an 80-45 quarterfinal victory over Weston Ranch of Stockton, Ware had a double-double 29 points and 13 rebounds with six steals. This week, with the Cal-Hi Sports caravan courtside, she had another double-double, finishing with game-highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds (four steals) in a 54-32 semifinal win over Vanden of Travis AFB.

“An outrageous talent, overcoming knee strain to dominate, great personality, too,” said her nominator, Joe Davidson of the Sacramento Bee.

Is Jasmine bitter about the adversity she’s faced?

“It’s built my character and made me what I am today. I wouldn’t change anything in my life,” Ware told Cal-Hi Sports. “My mom. I know she’s watching me. She’s probably listening to this conversation.”

The Village

After Darlene passed, Jasmine’s family and the tight-knit community at Sacramento High came to the rescue.

Her brother, Demond Philson, a local litigating attorney that played basketball at Sacramento, then UCSB and UC Davis, before getting a law degree at USF, took her in.

“My brother does everything for me and pays for everything. He’s the one person I can count on,” Ware said. “He’s my role model as well.”

“What a job to take in a teenager when he has three children of his own,” remarked four-year coach and Sacramento health science teacher Michelle Massari.

“When she hurt her knee he was crying,” continued Massari. “Without him, I doubt she would have gotten so far.”

It isn’t just Philson or Ware’s older sister, Crystal Tucker, who have aided her.

“I have the best and biggest family in the world. They’ve supported me and have been there for me – and comforted me. They told me they would help me and not to worry or stress. My life is good.”

A role model herself

I didn’t know it but when (sophomore) Chaya Durr told me she liked the way I play and I was her role model, it felt good. I thought if someone wants to be like me, maybe I am on the next level.”

Not only is Ware a role model and team leader, she works in the community as well, accompanying the team to the Oak Park Community Center to help 7-12-year olds learn how to play basketball.

More Coach’s comments

“She doesn’t want to leave the drills and she’s determined to work her tail off on shooting. She’s just so hard working and competitive. Even after she came back I had to hold my breath. She was diving for loose balls. She’s everywhere.”

“Her mom was sick and she didn’t want to play varsity in her freshman year. I told her she could get her poster on the wall.”

Now, with the picture submitted for this story garnering it, Jasmine’s poster is going on the wall next to ones for former Dragon stars Vickie Baugh, Kyra Dunn, Brittany Shine and Fantasia Hilliard.


“Our team knows about the school’s history, and getting to Power Balance is a must, and not just this week but for NorCals and state,” said Jaz, as she’s called by friends and family.

College and future plans

“My brother didn’t tell me he went to UCSB until after I committed. It was cool he told me after. I like the program, the coach is very good, teammates welcomed me, the school is great and the campus is beautiful,” said Ware who will most likely study pre-law and kinesiology.


Player: “Derrick Rose.”

Music: “I like a lot of different music, hip hop and R and B the most. I don’t like rap that much.”

Vacation spot: “Paris.”

Best advice from a coach

“Don’t let failure get to your heart and don’t let success get to your head.”

Three things Jaz looks forward to in college

“New competition and a higher level of playing. Meeting new people, new challenges and a new way of learning.”

Tips for youngsters

“Focus on your schoolwork, keep working in the books and pay attention in class. Don’t miss opportunities. If you’re struggling, talk with your teachers.”

“Every time you’re in the gym, work like it’s your last time in the gym. You never know what’s in store for you.”

With her experiences, Jasmine’s words certainly ring true.

You can send AOW nominations to mark.tennis@espn.com or tweet them to us @CalHiSports. Don't forget to follow Harold Abend on Twitter: @HaroldAbend