In the world of high school girls' basketball, few names resonate as loudly as Jacy Abii.
The 5-star sophomore has already amassed an impressive list of accolades, including a 5A Texas State Championship and a gold medal with the 16U FIBA USA team. But recently, Abii made a move that made the sports world sit up and take notice. She took an unofficial visit to Langston University, a historically black college and university (HBCU) in Langston, Oklahoma, making her the highest rated recruit to ever set foot on the campus in the school's history.
Abii's visit to Langston University is a testament to the growing appeal of HBCUs among top-tier athletes. This momentous visit has the potential to spark a trend, encouraging more high-profile athletes to consider HBCUs as viable options for their athletic and academic pursuits. Regardless of where Abii eventually chooses to go, her visit to Langston University has already made an indelible impact, elevating the profile of the university and HBCU athletics as a whole.
Abii's thoughts on Langston and the HBCU experience
1. Jacy, what impressed you the most during your visit to Langston University? Were there any specific aspects of the campus or program that stood out to you?
"The people and the culture! I really enjoyed meeting the people there as we did the tour. But also, the coaching staff were elite and professional. Coach Kevin Herod seemed very locked in but caring if that makes sense. You can tell he wants the best out of his athletes and really was pushing them during practice. I like that. The girls responded very well, and the culture of the team seems to be great. The player “questions and answers” panel was really cool. We got to hear their personal stories. They also shared with us why they chose LU as well as the things they wish they knew when they were going through the recruiting process in HS. They also made it clear that we want to get and stay in shape lol."
2. Based on the big PWI’s you’ve been to what was the difference in an HBCU like Langston.
"Although Langston University’s campus is a good size campus it had more of an intimate feel to me. The people seemed very approachable. I really enjoyed the atmosphere. The culture is unique in comparison to the other colleges that I have experienced due to it being an HBCU I’m sure. I hate that I missed the step show!! I plan to get back out there to check out a game and to experience more of the culture. I felt honored to be there to make some amazing connections and to get to know the players. They were all very welcoming to all of the recruits this past weekend. That meant a lot to me."
3. Jacy, as you consider your college options, what are some specific factors or values that you prioritize in a basketball program? How do you see Langston University aligning with those priorities?
"I want to feel at home. I know everyone says that. But this really is my top priority. I also am looking for a coaching staff that sees great things in me that maybe I don’t necessarily see yet and they are willingly to pull it out of me. I know once I commit and sign many have said it is about the business. But I’m praying I find a home that feels more than just business if that makes sense. My parents have always said the ball will stop bouncing. Who I have become off the court will determine how successful my journey really was. As far as LU is concerned, I saw a lot of value during my visit. They truly have a lot to offer their athletes including those in my position. I’m hoping more athletes that are being recruited predominantly by the bigger schools will take a trip or two to check out the HBCU’s. I really believe many high-ranking athletes are going to be surprised at how much of their values do align with the HBCU’s. I was so blessed to experience it."
Abii's parents were thoroughly impressed by the visit. They appreciated the university's commitment to academic excellence, its rich history, and its supportive community. They highlighted the importance of an environment that cares for their athlete not just on the court, but off it as well. They saw these qualities in Langston University, describing it as a place where their daughter could feel at home.
1. How do you feel about Jacy's visit to Langston University and the interest she has garnered from various schools? What factors are important to you when considering her college decision?
“We are happy for our daughter. It's a shame she can only attend one school. She's working harder and harder to prove those that believe in her right. She's very aware that this journey could easily be over any day. So, she has doesn't take it for granted. Some of the important factors for us are that she feels at home. We want her to have a special connection to the coaching staff but being drawn to the college itself is equally as important to us. Coaches do make moves and when those moves happen it's important, we feel that your athlete loves the school as well. We also want her to have the opportunity to enjoy her time on the court. So, the system is very important to us as well as how they plan to use her in their system. So, we will be watching very closely how they utilize athletes similar to our daughter.”
2. As parents, what aspects of Langston University and its basketball program make you feel confident in Jacy potentially choosing it as her college destination?
"At present, it's hard for us to say where Jacy is leaning due to each school having such unique aspects about them. LU overseeded my expectations! It's history, culture and a commitment to academic excellence definitely makes it a school we'd be proud to say our daughter attends."
3. Jacy's success on the basketball court is evident, but how important is it for you as parents to find a school that prioritizes her academic and personal development as well? What did you see at Langston that stood out from most power 5 schools.
“Academic and personal development is actually our top priority as parents. We've always preached to our children that the ball will stop bouncing. They, have been taught to make sure that they use the game well and that this game does not just use them. As far as what distinguishes LU from the Power 5 schools that answer is simple. The culture.
From the cars rolling up, to the music, that good old feel? your body and soul "just like grandma's house" food, and the old Auntie saying, "Hey Baby, how you doing?" And you have never met her in your life. The people were A1!! Simply can't be beat. We were honored to be there watching our daughter smile ear to ear.”
Head coach Kevin Herod of Langston University's Women's Basketball program spoke highly of Abii, praising not just her basketball skills, but also her character, work ethic, and enthusiasm. The coach also emphasized the university's commitment to the academic and personal development of its student-athletes, a priority that aligns with Abii's own values.
1. Coach, how do you feel about Jacy's visit and the attention it has brought to Langston University? How do you plan to leverage this interest to strengthen the program?
"Jacy is one of the top players nationally and has brought immediate exposure to our Women’s Basketball program. In our program, we don't “recruit” we educate and build relationships. Through education and relationship building we find the right fit. Some of the criteria we look for are:
High character people
Consistent work ethic
Jacy has all of these qualities. Great players want to play with other great players. This type of energy is special. Jacy visiting LU gives other great players a path to research and visit our school and our program."
2. What role do you envision Jacy playing on the team if she decides to commit to Langston University? How do you plan to develop her skills and help her reach her full potential?
"Jacy has unlimited potential on the basketball court. She has no ceiling. Because we play position-less basketball, we envision her mastering all positions. This helps her continue to progress her game in every area on the floor. Off the court, as we do every player in our program, there are steps we take to build our players to be as effective as possible.
Some of these steps are:
Watching film and studying it.
Learning how to interview in front of the press.
Networking and working with the community.
Our skill development staff is very passionate about building players with current and long-term goals so that Jacy is prepared for her future."
3. Coach, what unique opportunities does Langston University offer student-athletes like Jacy, both on and off the court? How do you support their academic and personal growth?
"With NIL deals becoming a prominent fixture in collegiate sports. It’s become a game-changer. Langston University is one of the few NAIA schools that uses the same company Major Division schools' use. Jacy would be able to take advantage of this opportunity and significantly would enhance her financial status. Academics is a high priority within our program with a 97% graduation rate. We begin working with our student athletes learning what our players are passionate about and targeting those interests. We are dedicated to making sure that internships are available, and the opportunities are limitless within the HBCU academic life. By the time Jacy graduates, she will have several opportunities she could pursue. Whether that’s corporate, becoming an entrepreneur, or having an opportunity to play professionally. Our staff gives individual attention to each player, and we don’t lose sight of the personal goals or dreams our student-athletes have. Meeting Jacy and her family was an absolute joy and blessing and I have no doubt whatever path she takes; she will make an impact on and off the basketball court."