By Shawn Wansley/JCJC SID
ELLISVILLE – Nique Cherry will be playing in the American Athletic Conference after she graduates from Jones County Junior College.
Cherry, a 6-foot-1 sophomore forward from Heidelberg High School, signed with East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, and she credits ECU coach Heather Macy with convincing her to become a Pirate.
“She felt genuine, like how I got to feeling with (JCJC) Coach (Missy) Bilderback,” Cherry said during a signing ceremony Tuesday afternoon in the McClellan Hall Media Room. “I got the feeling that everything was going to be all right and she is going to take care of me and she is going to care for me after basketball is over with. The atmosphere is good and I like the players.”
Cherry was a force from the beginning with the Lady Bobcats in 2016-17.
Cherry was an NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American and an All-Region 23 performer as a freshman when she averaged 12.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game and had 21 ‘double-doubles’ on the season. She also had 1.7 steals and 1.3 assists per game.
She helped the Lady Bobcats to MACJC and Region 23 Tournament championships and the school’s first-ever appearance in the NJCAA Division I National Tournament. JCJC finished the season at 30-2, a school-record for victories.
Bilderback said Cherry is a special player.
“Nique has had a tremendous impact on our program,” she said. “There is no way we have the success we’ve had over the last year and into this year without her. She is a great competitor, a hard worker and a fun kid to coach. We are blessed to have her throughout the remainder of this season.
“She is going to be really, really good at the next level. East Carolina, I think, got a steal.”
Cherry is already off to an excellent start this season for the No. 9 Lady Bobcats with two more ‘double doubles’ in her first two games. She had 21 points and 15 rebounds in a 106-57 win over Coahoma and 13 points and 14 rebounds in an 89-52 victory over Coastal Alabama-North.
“She is a hard-nosed kid that will rebound the ball and can score,” Bilderback added. “Nique has really worked hard in the offseason and has developed her perimeter game as well. She can score in multiple ways and she can defend. She will do anything you ask her to do. She will do whatever it takes to win.”
Macy is thrilled to have Cherry join the ECU program.
“Nique is a competitor and a hard worker that will do anything we ask of her on the court because she wants to be great,” Macy said in an ECU press release. “She has a personality that will help our team both on the court and in the locker room. We are excited to have Nique bring her leadership experience to Pirate Nation!”
Cherry looks forward to continuing to play basketball after leaving JCJC.
“I always felt like I would play (on the Division I level),” she said. “It’s just good to finally get here.”
The Lady Bobcats, 2-0, travel to Itawamba on Nov. 16 and will host Coastal Alabama-North at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 28.
They will host No. 3 Shelton State (Alabama) in a Top 10 showdown at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 30.