Jamaica’s Shamarla King: Breaking barriers in women’s basketball

Shamarla King, all six foot of her, is confident. And with good reason.

The high school girl from Kingston 12 is looking forward to a bright future as a college basketball star.

Now Hartford, Connecticut is her home town. She’s heading for the highly-rated Virginia Tech next year.

How did the girl from “Jungle” – who loved to play street football – reach so far in just a few years?

Shamarla started playing basketball while at Middle School in 2014, a year after going to live in Connecticut. She practised at the local YMCA.

Let’s backtrack a little. Shamarla and her brother were brought up by their aunt in Kingston after their mother left for the US. Her early love of football came from her father, whom she looked up to. She confesses she knew nothing about basketball before she came to the US.

Now described as “the best female guard in the State of Connecticut,” Shamarla is ranked at #58 in ESPN’s High School Girls Basketball Recruiting Top 100 list. She’s a quick and athletic player with a “confident demeanour,” the listing notes.

“This journey has really opened my eyes and has given me a vision of what I can achieve in the future”

— Shamarla King

Shamarla is thankful. She gives her Coach Glenn credit for “taking me on as a daughter.” He taught her all she needed to know to be successful, she adds, both on and off the court.

She also gives thanks for the support from the CT Heights girls’ basketball programme, funded by the Sonya D. Dockett Memorial Foundation. The programme gave her the financial support she needed.

Last but not least, Shamarla thanks her family and friends for always being there for her. Without her Mom, “this would not be possible,” she says.

“This journey has really opened my eyes and has given me a vision of what I can achieve in the future,” she adds. Shamarla’s mother passed on her vision to her daughter. Now the lanky girl with a quiet smile is pursuing that vision. She is leaping, passing and dunking her way to fame as a national basketballer.

Yes, the WNBA is calling. But Shamarla is realistic.

“Hard work and a positive mental attitude,” she says, have taken her a long way.

“I am proud of what I have achieved,” she adds. “But this is not enough.”

More hard work lies ahead. Shamarla is ready.