Douglassville native JoJo Lacey finds her place among the top college basketball recruits in the nationReading Eagle, Pa. — Jason Guarente Reading Eagle, Pa.
May 20-- May 20--To become an All-State player, the kind with shoe boxes full of letters from major college programs, JoJo Lacey needed a push.
Lacey was interested in everything except basketball. Gymnastics. Ballet. Cheerleading. She dipped her toes into all kinds of pursuits.
This drove her mother a little crazy.
Monica Charles Lacey was a 1,000-point scorer at Pottstown who played at Kutztown University. She saw potential in her daughter, who was tall, agile and could use both hands.
"This is a really good sport," she told JoJo. "It can take you places."
Eventually those words clicked. They were prophetic.
Lacey remembers her focus shifting sometime around her sophomore year at Westtown School, where the Douglassville native lived on campus the past four years after transferring from Daniel Boone (which she attended through eighth grade).
Basketball became her game, not the game her mom wanted her to play.
"I started finding out this is actually something I could do for the rest of my life," said Lacey, whose brother Pop graduated from Berks Catholic. "It was important to me because of the opportunities I gained and the connections I made over time."
Colleges lined up to show interest in Lacey, a 6-0 guard who plays on the wing. North Carolina, Notre Dame and Baylor all had an entry in a shoe box by freshman year.
Lacey, who played for the famed Philadelphia Belles AAU program, was ranked No. 53 in the nation in ESPNW's 2020 recruiting class. Neumann-Goretti's Diamond Johnson and Bellwood-Antis' Alli Campell were the only other Pennsylvania players on the list.
Lacey chose Boston College. She'll compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"She's always put herself in that world," Westtown coach Fran Burbidge said. "Her AAU team consisted of more than a handful of kids who are going to the power five (conferences). She was very comfortable in that atmosphere as far as being able to compete with and against those types of kids."
Lacey was named All-State first team in Class 2A after averaging 12 points and nine rebounds per game as a senior.
There were some advantages to being at Westtown. She set her alarm early each morning and worked out with Cam Reddish, later drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, and other standout members of the school's powerhouse boys team.
"At first I did not have the work ethic for it," Lacey said. "Every time I played, it was more doing it off my potential. Once I understood I could get better by putting in the hours, that's when I started taking it seriously."
Lacey helped Westtown capture its first Friends League championship in 23 years.
Burbidge, who took over as coach before the season, pulled Lacey and her fellow seniors aside and challenged them to end the drought. They answered the challenge.
Lacey's physical gifts give her room to grow over the next four years. She said she wants to crack the starting lineup as a freshman and take it from there.
"They look at a kid like JoJo, see her athleticism, see that she's able to knock down the 3, see her get to the rim, see her get rebounds and start up the floor," Burbidge said. "Now it's going to come down to how hard she wants to work and how good she wants to be. She brings those tools to be successful."
The souvenir ball from Monica Lacey's 1,000th point was placed in JoJo's room. It was there as a motivator, a way to get her more interested in basketball.
That push is no longer needed.
Lacey, as her mom suspected, is going places.
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