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River Hill’s Saniha Jackson, Oakland Mills’ Jazmine Washington commit to play college basketball together at Bowie State

Oakland Mills Scorpions guard Jazmine Washington (4) goes to the basket and attempts a lay up over River Hill Hawks forward Saniha Jackson (24) during the first half at Oakland Mills High School.
Oakland Mills Scorpions guard Jazmine Washington (4) goes to the basket and attempts a lay up over River Hill Hawks forward Saniha Jackson (24) during the first half at Oakland Mills High School. (Terrance Williams, for The Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Two of the best girls basketball players in Howard County are joining forces to play together in college.

River Hill’s Saniha Jackson and Oakland Mills’ Jazmine Washington have both committed to Division II Bowie State. Both players were first-team All-County selections this past season, as Jackson was the best post player in the county and Washington was one of the league’s top guards.

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“If you’ve watched their development since they entered their respective programs, both have developed and improved," Oakland Mills coach Walt Hagins said. “If you follow that trend, there’s nothing but potential for the both of them.”

The two seniors played AAU together a few seasons ago, and they both said they enjoyed playing with each other. Jackson, who is no stranger to playing with a talented point guard after spending four seasons with All-County point guard Kennedy Clark, said she is looking forward to sharing a court with Washington.

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“During our AAU season together, it was really fun. I really liked playing with Jazmine,” Jackson said. “She’s a great point guard. She sees the court really well, so it’s fun playing with her. Knowing I’ll be playing with her again is really exciting. I hope we become a dynamic duo at Bowie.”

Jackson orally committed during the season, and Washington announced her commitment April 2. Washington and Jackson didn’t make the decision to commit to Bowie State together, but they both knew the other was being recruited by Bowie State and talked about the possibility of playing together again.

“I remember going up to [Jackson] a few months ago and randomly saying ‘Hey future teammate,'” Washington said. “She was confused at first, and then when we talked about Bowie and she kind of jokes and said, ‘If you go, I’ll go.’ ... Then my second or third visit at Bowie the coach told me that Saniha had committed. I didn’t know that at the time, and that was it for me. I was ready to commit then."

Washington elevated her game this season for Oakland Mills (7-9 Howard County, 12-12 overall), increasing her scoring average from around 12 points per game as a sophomore and junior to 20.8 as a senior, which ranked second in the county.

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She was the most consistent scorer in the county, tallying 10-plus points in all 24 of Oakland Mills’ games. She also finished first in the county in steals (5.3), second in free-throw shooting (82%) and 3-pointers made (73), and third in assists (4.1).

“When Jaz signed, I thought it was a perfect fit,” Hagins said. “I love the coaching staff up there. Jaz’s skill set fits that program extremely well.”

Jackson was the only post player on first-team All-County this season after leading the Hawks to a 20-5 record and a second-place finish in the county standings.

A year after helping lead the Hawks to the 2A state title as a junior, the forward finished tops on River Hill in scoring (16.3 points per game), rebounding (8.7), steals (4.1), blocks (1.3) and free-throw shooting (66%). She was also fourth in the league in scoring and steals, fifth in rebounding, sixth and free-throw percentage and eighth in blocks.

Both Jackson and Washington eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone this season, as Washington scored her 1,000th on Feb. 13 and Jackson achieved the feat in the Hawks’ first playoff game on March 2.

“I think Saniha can go in there and be a contributing factor. The coach seems very nice, and I feel like it’s a good fit for Saniha,” said River Hill coach Teresa Waters. “I know her and Jazmine both played AAU together, and I think Jazmine is a smart point guard. Jazmine is a student of the game, and she makes everyone around her better."

Bowie State was one of the top teams in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association this past season. The Bulldogs had the third best record in the CIAA and finished the season 25-5.

The HBCU earned an NCAA tournament bid before it was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Both Washington and Jackson said Bowie State coach Shadae Swan was one of the main reasons they chose to play for the Bulldogs.

“It was the coaching staff that drew me to Bowie State,” Washington said. “As soon as I met the head coach, I knew it was a family atmosphere there. I also like that Bowie is an HBCU. It feels like home. I wanted to go to college somewhere that felt similar to Oakland Mills, and Bowie was the school that drew my attention the most.”

Hagins and Waters both said they’re excited that Bowie is close to home so they can watch Washington and Jackson play together for the Bulldogs.

“That will be a treat to watch. I think it’s so awesome,” Hagins said. “It shows that you don’t have to travel many miles to get a good education and play competitive basketball. Also, to have Saniha, who has been a dominant force at her position, and Jaz, who has been one of the top performers at her position, that’ll be an awesome fit. I’m so excited to watch them play together.”

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