Wildcats sign 3 to play at the next level

Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 19, 2013



RESERVE – Tuesday morning provided a fitting cap on what has been a banner year of East St. John basketball.

Elex Carter, Brishane Haynes and Nya Duhe each officially signed scholarships to continue their education and athletic careers, with Carter inking with Southern and Duhe and Haynes each headed to Delgado.

Carter led the East St. John boys to one of the most successful seasons in team history, the Wildcats finishing 24-10, a district champion and a state quarterfinalist.

Meanwhile, Haynes and Duhe were cornerstones of the first Ladycats district champion since 2006.

Carter, the 2012-13 St. John the Baptist Parish co-MVP, was one of the most feared defensive players in the state. The 6-foot-7 center averaged 7.8 points, 12.2 rebounds, 5.3 blocks and 2.7 steals a game to lead one of the state’s top defensive units.

“I’m feeling a lot of relief and excitement,” said Carter. “I felt (Southern) was just a good fit. I get an overall good vibe.”

While most young players envision themselves as scorers, Carter embraced his role as the Wildcats’ guardian of the paint.

“It was always just a natural thing for me,” he said.

“I’ve never tried to be a big scorer … the plan’s always been, don’t allow anyone to get into the paint.”

ESJ coach Yussef Jasmine said Carter made a huge imprint on the Wildcats’ program.

“To a degree, he’s been the face of the program for my head coaching era here,” said Jasmine, who took the helm of the team in 2007. “You love all of your kids, but sometimes you connect with a few of them more than anyone. And with Elex, we had that.

“I remember telling my wife, ‘He’s gonna be very special.’ So as a coach, Monday was a very special day.”

Like Carter, Haynes’ calling card was also her defense. The 5-foot-7 senior was primarily a forward but played everywhere on the court for the Ladycats, manning everything from point guard to center at times.

She averaged 11 points, nine rebounds and over five steals a game.

“I always wanted to be a defensive player,” said Haynes. “I know that if I get my defense going, that’ll get my offense going.

“In basketball, there’s only so much an offensive player is allowed to do. You can use that as a defender.”

Haynes said she’s proud to become the first member of her family to move on to college.

“I’m really excited about it,” said Haynes with a big smile. “I can’t wait to get up there and play.”

ESJ girls coach Jackson Manuel said that Haynes left an impression on him in her freshman year.

“She came to me and asked, ‘Coach, what can I do to get better?’” he said. “I thought very highly of that. She told me that she wanted to be able to sign and play ball and I told her, you stay (in the gym) and work at it, we’ll make it happen.

“She took care of everything she needed to. She scored a 22 or 23 on her ACT. She has a 3.0-plus GPA. She did everything you’d look for out of a student athlete.”

Duhe, meanwhile, created a plethora of tough matchups for opposing defenses with her height and offensive ability. Duhe averaged 9.5 points, five rebounds and three steals for the Wildcats.

What made Duhe special for the Wildcats was her offensive skill and accurate shot, something that made her team extremely tough to defend with her playing one of the “big” positions.

“I think my biggest strength is my ability to shoot the ball and score it,” said Duhe. “We had some very good guards on our team which helped open it up a lot.

“I’m just really happy to be here today and excited to move on to the next level.”

Said Manuel, “It made it very difficult for some teams to match up with us, when we could essentially put five guards out there.”

Manuel said Duhe began to really take her game to the next level this season.

“She stepped her game up big time,” said Manuel. “In her freshman year, she was kind of a playful kid, just happy to be on a team with her friends. But toward the end of her junior year, she started to take it seriously. And as a senior, she decided she wanted to be a lead player on this team.”

Manuel added that Delgado women’s basketball coach Edgar Fields saw the two play often this year and was able to see Duhe’s progress over the season.

“I think that he saw her earlier in the season when she wasn’t as good of a rebounder or defender, then saw the strong progress she made,” said Manuel.

And now, of course, Ladycat fans have ample reason to follow Delgado, with not one but two ESJ representatives headed that way.

“Nya and I always talked about going to the same school,” said Haynes, who has known Duhe since middle school.

“Me with defense, her with offense, it’s always made for a good team together.”