Former Lady Jacket Bonner learns, leads at ICC
Former Starkville High School girls basketball player Shay Bonner has adapted to junior college. (Photo by Lee Adams, SDN)
Shay Bonner is learning and leading at Itawamba Community College.
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The former Starkville High School standout just wrapped up the first half of her sophomore season for the Lady Indians and she is still using some of her same methods of playing as she did in the Yellowjackets uniform.
"I took my hustle from my high school years," said Bonner. "I still have it as I'm able to get after the basketball, the loose basketballs on the floor and help my teammates out on defense."
So far this season Bonner is in the top three of almost every category for the Lady Indians, including first in free-throw percentage and second in assists.
"I think I'm playing a whole lot better than I was last year," said Bonner. "But I still have a little work to do to help the team out."
Bonner is third in points scored as she is averaging 11.4 points per game and is shooting 51 percent from the floor, which is also third best on the team.
Even with her stats and the success she is having this season, she is doing more than putting points up.
"It's going pretty good," said Bonner. "I've matured as a leader and helping everybody during their mistakes to keep their heads up because we tend to hang our heads when we do something, so I have to pick them back up and let them know it's OK and it'll get better."
Bonner has scored in double digits several times this season including a 20-point performance in the season opener, but her improvement from the perimeter has caught the attention of ICC head coach Nanci Gray.
"She's an incredible athlete," said Gray. "She has grown so much offensively. She can hit the 3 now, which extends her game. She's a whole player and she's really become an efficient outside shooter."
Bonner has been efficient from the outside as she is currently shooting 44 percent, which is third on the team.
With her improved outside game, Bonner has gotten more versatile which means she can be played at more positions.
"Shay will play anywhere we want her to," said ICC assistant coach and former Mississippi State women's player Robin Porter. "She is primarily a two guard but she will play one to bring the ball up and pressure sometimes."
Bonner can move to the one guard now, but she's not so sure she could have done that before this year.
"Last year it would have been harder for me because I wasn't use to the program," said Bonner. "But this year, I understand the game a lot better, so I'm able to move from position to position and learn everything at each position."
Even though she has having a good year shooting, Bonner is also known for her defense.
"She really brings is heart, desire, a lot of defensive intensity and can make a lot of things happen out of steals," said Gray. "She is always going to draw their best player because we are always going to put her on the best outside scorer."
Bonner is currently second on the team in steals and is averaging 1.6 steals a game.
With Bonner being more of an all-around player this season and taking on that leadership role, the Lady Indians have big goals.
"She has taken on a leadership role because she knows what it takes," said Porter. "She has stepped up big time and it talking on the floor and helping get the team together. She knows that we are trying to win a state championship and that's what she wants to do as well."
Bonner's goal isn't just to win a state title but to do it at home, but she also has goals after this season.
"My main goal is to finish out this year by trying to win everything and host the tournament," said Bonner. "I want to go somewhere after here."
She hasn't talked to any schools yet but if she continues to improve this season, it doesn't seem like she'll be calling it quits after this season. However, her time at ICC has made her into the player she is now.
"I've had a great time here," said Bonner. "I've met wonderful people. The people from last year helped me out a lot and the people this year we have bonded a lot and we've got a little sisterhood."