Wednesday, February 17, 2016

January balances a busy schedule on and off the court with ease

                               Photo Credit: DePaul Athletics

Most star athletes in sports tend to be stereotyped into a category of being above everyone else and thinking of self, not others.

For DePaul junior Jessica January, the opposite can be said in terms of being the ultimate team player.

A native of Richfield, MN, January leads the team in assists per game with 5.9 and named as one of 10 players to the Lieberman Watch List on Feb. 8, an award for the top point guard in Division I college basketball.

"It is a really big honor, but I really have not thought of it that much  entering this season," January said. "I really could not do it without my teammates and our senior leadership."

Like most students, the transition from to college can be drastic and January's case was no different, but embraced a new opportunity after graduating from Richfield High School in 2013 to move 405 miles south to Chicago and play for coach Doug Bruno at DePaul.

"At first, it was pretty difficult being away from home, but I think I am really competitive in other aspects outside of basketball like school, which made the transition easier," January said. "All of the staff here at DePaul are great and there is so much help with my tutors and teammates being really helpful."

With a staunch belief of a having a strong support system and a 3.95 grade point average, January knows the importance of academics and how far an education can go once basketball ends.

"Our coaches are honest about the importance of succeeding in the classroom," January said. "Taking pride in academics is important because we know we can't play basketball forever."

Bruno echoed similar sentiments about January's work ethic in an interview with Comcast SportsNet Chicago on Feb. 12.

"Jessica is the ultimate and consummate competitor and she brings competitiveness with everything she does whether it is at school, practice or in the games," Bruno said.

January played basketball, track and volleyball at Richfield and believes the rigors of keeping a busy schedule has helped at DePaul. 

"Playing multiple sports in high school helped me prepare for college because in track, we had really difficult workouts, but when I got here, the workouts were just as hard," January said. "In terms of keeping up with the pace, the regimen helps a lot."

In her freshman season at DePaul, January took the necessary feedback given by the coaches, but seemed very timid to react at first.

"I am not an outspoken person and definitely a little more on the quieter side, so we really didn't have that much interaction in my freshman year," January said. "This season as a junior, there is definitely more trust and leadership and [Bruno] depends on me a lot to lead the way."

January credits the stability of fellow backcourt mate Chanise Jenkins to lean on for advice.

"Having seniors like Chanise Jenkins playing the same position I do has been a blessing," January said. "I try to follow the leadership she displays and without her, I would not have the success at DePaul."

College can go by in an instant and one year from now, January will be a senior and in the same predicament as Jenkins and forward Megan Podkowa. 

"They always tell you when you come here that time will fly by, but you never think about that especially with the day-to-day practices and classwork," January said. "It's going to be really sad to see the seniors go."

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.