Life is grand for JaQuail Townser, an Alton High graduate making his mark in men’s basketball at Jacksonville State in northeast Alabama.
He has more than a thousand reasons to celebrate his success.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior point guard reached another milestone recently. He passed the 1,000-point plateau in college hoops. Townser also surpassed 1,000 points during his outstanding career at AHS.
So he has had a doubly grand basketball life. And there could be more memorable moments on the horizon. The Jacksonville State Gamecocks, members of the Ohio Valley Conference, still have nine regular-season games remaining, including one Saturday at Morehead State.
“It means a great deal to me,” said Townser, who joined the 1,000-point club on Jan. 9 against Murray State. “There aren’t a lot of people that get an opportunity to go to college and play Division I basketball.”
Townser, a 2011 Alton grad, enjoyed two stellar seasons at Southwestern Illinois Community College in Belleville before joining the Jacksonville State program last season.
“I’ve scored about half of my college points at SWIC and the other half at Jacksonville State,” Townser said of his grand total.
Former AHS standouts Tony Bradley, D’tae McMurray and Darrius Edwards also have excelled at SWIC. McMurray is a sophomore and Edwards is a freshman for the Blue Storm this season.
“SWIC gave me a chance to develop as a point guard and also develop my overall game,” Townser said. “Coach Jay Harrington (at SWIC) and coach James Green (at Jacksonville State) had similar styles. They stress the old-school defensive style of basketball.”
While defense is one part of Townser’s game, it’s hardly the only one. He averaged 15.5 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds per game his sophomore season at SWIC. Townser earned All-Region honors and helped the Blue Storm to a 22-win season.
Then Jacksonville State came calling and Townser eagerly awaited playing for the Gamecocks.
“My goal was to play Division I basketball,” he said. “It’s something I really wanted to do and I didn’t have the opportunity to do that after high school. A lot of college teams didn’t look at me.”
He proved them wrong. Townser has added to his achievements since leaving the cozy comforts of Southwestern Illinois.
Townser averaged 7.9 points, 3.3 assists and 2.5 rebounds for Jacksonville State his junior season. This year, he has averaged 9.6 points, 4 rebounds and 3.6 assists through the Gamecocks’ first 21 games. He is the team leader in steals, averaging 1.2 per game.
Jacksonville State is 7-14 overall and 3-3 in the OVC, including a 72-67 home victory over SIUE. The Gamecocks walloped UT Martin 82-60 on Jan. 16, with Townser netting 13 points. He made 5 of 7 shots, including 3 of 5 treys.
“We had a big win (Jan. 13) at Southeast Missouri and we needed that one,” he said of the 74-60 victory. Townser contributed 13 points and 4 rebounds in that triumph.
He added, “I think we need to be more consistent the whole game. If we can do that, we’ll have a great chance to win. We play our best when we are moving the ball and when we are rebounding well. When we are rebounding, our defense is better.”
During the narrow win over SIUE on Dec. 31, Townser sank two free throws in the closing seconds to ensure a Gamecocks’ victory. He had an opportunity to play against former AHS standout Carlos Anderson that night. Anderson served as a freshman starter when Townser was a senior on the 2010-11 AHS squad.
“We had a great matchup and it was fun because we are cousins,” Townser said of battling Anderson. “We were kind of talking at each other the whole game.”
Jacksonville State’s Green said Townser’s play has spurred the Gamecocks, eyeing a spot in the OVC playoffs. They are cast in the East Division.
“He plays with a lot of confidence and what I like about him is that he can do different things,” Green said. “His biggest asset is the way he can dish the basketball.”
It has been a learning experience in his journey from AHS to D-I basketball, Townser noted.
“You really have to be tough when you are playing Division I basketball because you have to come ready to work every day,” he said. “There are so many good players that you can’t take anything for granted. You have to be prepared every day to make yourself and others better.”
When opportunity knocked for Townser, he confidently answered the door.
“What I learned along the way is that I can play with anybody,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of exposure, but I put in the work and that made a difference. All I needed was a chance to prove myself and I knew I could do it.
“I made the best of it.”
The business major plans to graduate in late April and possibly continue his basketball career.
“I hope to play overseas,” Townser said. “I went to a camp last summer in Las Vegas and got a lot of exposure that will help me.”
There’s also a project in Alton that’s close to his heart. He is teaming with Tyrome Parker and other former Redbirds to assist local youths. They are members of the RICH group, or Realize It Can Happen.
“We have camps for kids and it’s a way to give back to the community,” Townser said. “We want to be role models.”
It seems like another grand plan.
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