2016 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Media Day: High school teammates don't let USC-UCLA rivalry get in way of friendship
SAN FRANCISCO – Windward School in Los Angeles has been a girls’ basketball powerhouse in recent years, winning CIF Southern Section titles in 2011, 2013 and 2014 and winning the CIF Division IV state title in 2012. Two big reasons why the Wildcats were so good in the early 2010’s were a couple of “littles” on the perimeter in point guard Jordin Canada and three-point specialist Courtney Jaco.
The two might have chosen rival schools, with Jaco heading off to USC in 2013 and Canada going to UCLA the year after, but they remain good friends and had the chance to catch up at Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day.
Jaco and Canada led Windward to a lot of wins, helping the Wildcats to a 32-1 record in 2013 despite ushering in a new head coach. The two enjoyed playing together and both remember winning as their favorite memories of their high school basketball days.
“Playing with her was great. All I had to do was stand in the corner and she’d give me the ball,” Jaco said of Canada. “She’s a great player, a great competitor.”
The two also developed a close friendship. Jaco, a year older, went off to USC and became a contributor off the bench her freshman season, while Canada was leading Windward to another league and section title as a senior in high school in 2014. The thought of playing with Jaco at USC was intriguing for Canada, but she ended up choosing that other Pac-12 school in the Los Angeles area.
Canada kept Jaco in the loop about her decision-making process, but didn’t ask for her input. In return, Jaco didn’t try to force her to decide one way or another.
“I knew USC was one of her choices, but I never wanted to pressure her into feeling like she had to come here because I was going there,” Jaco said. “Just pick a school that was best for her. I think she hit that one on the head.”
Sometimes friends in similar situations say they will indulge in friendly smack talk leading up to games against each other or boast bragging rights after the game. That’s not the case with Jaco and Canada, not even close.
“We’re not on that level where it’s like ‘oh, we have to dislike USC because I go to UCLA or vice versa,’” Canada said. “We were close before we even chose to go to these schools, so the school is not going to change how we feel about each other.”
Even though the two have been well established in the college game for quite some time now, it’s still a little strange for them to go head-to-head on the court instead of playing side-by-side.
“Playing against her is weird now,” Jaco said. “We both just give the maximum amount of effort that we can. It’s all good after the games. We’re really great friends.”