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ALJ’s Edwards signs with Bishop State

Ashley Edwards became the first A.L. Johnson girls basketball player since 2003 to sign a college scholarship Monday when she inked an offer from Bishop State Community College of Mobile.

Edwards, a 5-7 guard, has been the Lady Eagles’ floor leader for the last three seasons, emerging as a distributor during her senior year. Those honed passing skills combined with her already prolific scoring ability was key to ALJ’s run into the sub-regional round of the Class 1A state playoffs.

“She really took on the role of bringing the rest of those girls up. She took on the role as a big time distributor,” A.L. Johnson coach Joycelin Hudson said. “She really took on a leadership role.”

“My sophomore and junior years, I didn’t have as much help. I focused on scoring,” Edwards said of the differences in her game over the last few seasons. “My senior year, we had players like Tiffany Barber at shooting guard and Terra King in the post. I could get the ball to them and it took a lot of pressure off me.”

While her passing skills were on display to a much larger degree during her senior year, it was Edwards’ natural ability to get to the basket that most appealed to Bishop State head coach Derrick Powe.

“Watching her, she’s very strong going to the basket. We had her competing against our post player and she took them to the basket pretty easily,” Powe said.

Edwards’ role at Bishop State will be considerably different as she will transition from the combo guard style she has played for most of her high school career into a stretch power forward in BSCC’s unique offense.

“We run a four-guard offense,” Powe said. “She will play that big guard position. We consider that our power forward position. Her strengths are taking the ball to the basket and she had some pretty decent low post moves.”

That shift means Edwards will need to focus on certain aspects of her game as she looks to advance beyond Bishop State and onto the four-year college level.

“I want to play four-year (college basketball). I’ve just got to work on shooting the ball from the outside, my dribbling skills and becoming a better defensive player,” Edwards said.

Hudson is confident her now former player will find success at Bishop as long as she maintains the intensity that enabled her to make such a considerable impact at A.L. Johnson.

“They are going to get a great competitor, a very teachable, coachable young lady that can fit in as a shooting guard, a point guard and is a very intense defensive player,” Hudson said.

Hudson pointed out that the signing marks a milestone for the small program, which has not seen a signee in nearly a decade.

“It’s going to be a big motivator for girls that leave here,” Hudson said. “To see that they can leave from this small school and this small program and go to the next level.”

For Edwards, the day marked the culmination of years of work and the beginning of a new chapter.

“It was a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders,” Edwards said. “I’d like to thank my dad for pushing me a lot, my coaches who stood by me even though we had some losing seasons and my mother too.”

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