Liberty wing Journie Augmon had no interest in playing basketball like her famous father.
“I used to be cheerleader,” she said, flashing a smile. “Cheer was my first sport and first love. One day I was like ‘Maybe I should try (basketball),’ and I got a feel for it.”
Or, perhaps, inherited a feel for it.
Augmon, now in her sixth year of competitive basketball, averages a Las Vegas area-best 12.3 rebounds to go with 9.5 points and 2.3 steals for the Patriots, who breezed through Southeast League play without a loss to earn a double bye in the Desert Region tournament.
“She’s been outrebounding most teams almost all by herself,” Liberty coach Chad Kapanui said. “It’s crazy to think a person of that size is getting all those rebounds … but she’s been also scoring, too. She’s a big part of our offense and our defense this year.”
The 5-foot-9-inch senior credited her instincts and tenacity on the glass to her father, Stacey, a star on the UNLV teams from 1987-91 that reached consecutive Final Four berths and won a national championship in 1990. He then played 15 years in the NBA.
She rebuffed basketball initially, though, and he never pressured her into playing, she said. She chose instead to start on her own accord in the seventh grade.
“He was shocked,” she said of her father, who coaches a professional basketball club in South Korea. “He told me, ‘You don’t have to go to college to play basketball. You don’t have to live up to what (I’ve) done.’ That’s what he’s always told me.”
Augmon, who quickly grew to love the game, averaged 3.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and two steals as a role player for Liberty last season. The Patriots reached the Class 4A state championship game in February, but lost standouts Dre’Una Edwards, Rae Burrell and London Pavlica to graduation in the spring.
As the team’s only returning starter, Augmon expected to take on a bigger role and relished a leadership opportunity. They finished the regular season with a 19-5 record and will play again on Thursday.
“She came in as a leader. She became the captain, and now she’s a big part of what we do,” Kapanui said. “Playing last year on varsity helped her a lot, and playing with other good players, too.”
Augmon will go to college to play basketball and announced on Jan. 25 her commitment to attend William Penn University, an NAIA school in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
The former cheerleader didn’t expect to play basketball at all — much less at the collegiate level.
“But I’m glad (I) did,” she said. “It brought a new life. A new journey.”
A journey that won’t start until the fall. Because she has at least one more high school game to play first.
And maybe a few more.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “Our team came together so well, and I’m excited to see what we’re going to do.”
Girls basketball playoffs
Class 4A Desert and Mountain Regions
First round — Monday
Second round — Tuesday
Quarterfinals — Thursday
Semifinals — Feb. 19
Championship — Feb. 21