Strathmore star senior goes D-II

Jermaine Johnson II

Jazmine Soto signs letter of intent to play basketball at Holy Names University in Oakland

STRATHMORE – One of the Central Valley’s most accomplished basketball players is taking her talents up to the Bay Area. Strathmore High School (SHS) senior Jazmine Soto signed her National Letter of Intent (NLI) to play Division II basketball for Holy Names University in Oakland, Calif.

Although her senior season is in doubt, Soto has etched her name in Tulare County basketball history. During her junior season, she dropped 42 points in a game where she broke the Tulare County girls’ basketball scoring record, which stood for 23 years. She’ll likely end her career with 2,498 points in just three seasons, which is 101 points shy of the Tulare County all-time scoring record.

The jump from middle school to varsity basketball was seemingly a breeze for Soto. She immediately made an impact as she broke the Central Section’s freshman scoring record with 712 points. After two straight seasons of first round playoff exits, Soto led her team to the Division V Valley championship game last year. She dropped 29 points in a 43-39 loss to Bakersfield Christian, which will likely go down as her last basketball game in a Strathmore uniform.

“[That game] motivated me to be better this season,” Soto said. “It’s tough…I was so ready to play again.”

Holy Names University was the only offer Soto received, but one can only imagine the possibilities if it weren’t for the ongoing pandemic. A lot of senior college athletes will have another year of eligibility, which limits the availability of scholarships.

Nonetheless, Soto has continued to hone her craft as she’s been training with local professional boxer Aaron Alafa. Since her freshman year, Alafa has served as a mentor for Soto both in and out of the gym. Not only did he help cultivate her physical skills of strength and speed, but also her intangible skills of grit, work ethic, and mental toughness.

Soto has kept her basketball skills up to par as well. During the summer, she began playing for Team Militant, a travel team in Bakersfield. Since August, the team has consistently played in games and tournaments despite having to wear masks the entire time.

“It was kind of hard breathing wise, but anything to play,” Soto said. “It was good to get competition and be back on the court.”

Since she signed her NLI, she can no longer play in games for Team Militant but she continues to train. She’ll have a friend at Holy Names as she will be joined by one of her teammates, Jaiden Key from Bakersfield High School.

Soto will now look onward to possibly re-joining the track and field team since that sport will likely return next month. She’s still deciding if she will actually participate, but it wouldn’t be her first time around the track. She ran during her freshman and sophomore seasons, and added more records to her impressive high school resume. According to Athletic.net, Soto was a part of the 4×400 meter relay team that holds the record for fastest time in SHS history with a 4:11.22. She also has the second fastest 100 meter time with a 13.35, and the second fastest 400 meter time with 1.00.41.

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