Senior year is one of the most memorable years of any college students life. The anticipation of heading into the real world and the anxiousness to get everything that they want accomplished in the short span of that year makes time fly by for all who endure it. This is equally true for two of the Charlotte 49ers Women’s Basketball seniors, Jade Phillips and Lauren Harley, who will not only be ending their scholastic careers but also their collegiate athletic careers as well. The two guards have played exceptionally well in the 49ers uniform and while their time is coming to a close, they will always and forever be Niners.
Phillips is a Raleigh native whose love for basketball sprouted in high school. She had always been a follower of the sport throughout her life, but as she got older, she became passionate about the game. Her favorite basketball players consist of Lebron James and Candace Parker, and she also enjoys using her athletic abilities to play football.
Harley is a Columbia native who fell in love with basketball when she was young. She would go out and watch her brother play and then play with him, and the game always stuck with her. When she started watching and getting into basketball, her favorite player was Kobe Bryant when he was wearing number 24 for the Los Angeles Lakers. She is also interested in other sports like football, of which she is a casual watcher.
The two ladies have had many great moments like great players do throughout their entire basketball careers and they even have moments that rise above the rest for them. Harley’s favorite moment was becoming a Niner and signing with Charlotte to play Division I basketball, and Phillips’s favorite was making it to the final four her freshman year. Even though her Final Four appearance was not with Charlotte, she loves the love that she has seen and received from fans, coaches and teammates.
In addition to their own favorite moments, they also have favorite moves that they use whenever they need a bucket. Even though both ladies can shoot the ball both opted to go for the safer and smarter choice when in need of some points. Phillips opted for driving to the basket and getting as close as she can for the lay-in and Harley picked a specific dribble set up for her go to moves.
“I fake right, crossover back to my left hand, go to the basket, and try to finish with a layup,” Harley said.
To put on and represent the 49er uniform is an amazing opportunity for anyone that is able to do so, so when these players were given the chance to come they jumped at it. One of the reasons they felt so comfortable becoming a Niner was because of the coaching staff and how comfortable they make them feel. Phillips was also persuaded by the energy and excitement that came with the school and how everyone is proud to be a Niner, while Harley was ecstatic about being so close to home because she was only an hour away from the people who love and support her. They have many other reasons as to why they love being Niners as well, like the support that they garner and for Harley her family, coaches and teammates.
“Just the school spirit. Everybody shows love and everybody is trying to help each other out and the community here,” Phillips said.
Due to it being their senior year, they have their sights set on big things this year that include championships. Harley has this team pushing to win the conference championship while Phillips has her eyes set on making it to the NCAA Tournament. During the season, they both have some games that they are keeping their eyes on and for Harley it is the first game of the season while Phillips is looking forward to competing with Kentucky and Rice.
“I am looking forward to that Kentucky game in our preseason because I know that is a big opportunity for us to get on map to get ready for our season and another game I am looking for is when we play Rice again. I know they were one of the top in the league and I really want to play them again,” Phillips said.
Now, even in practice they are competitors; so much so that when it comes to thinking about the hardest player to guard they both have very interesting answers. Phillips thinks that Harley and Redshirt Junior Guard Christain Hithe are some of the toughest teammates to go up against in practices. Harley is an athletic player, that certainly emerged in her junior season and is sure to be more of a threat on the court this season. Hithe played in 26 games in her first season of action on the court for Charlotte in the 2018-2019 season, garnered three double figure-scoring games and is fairly solid from the free throw line. Harley believes that Phillips, a very versatile shooter that’s quick on her feet, is one of the hardest to guard.
When playing a team sport, everyone plays a role no matter how big or small and it could also be on or off the court. Not only are Phillips and Harley contributors on the court but they contribute off the court too.
“I would definitely say my energy, like my coach said, being a leader because they feed off of that. If I am down then the team is down, so if I bring it then I know we are going to be in a good spot,” said Phillips.
As athletes, there are ups and downs in the sports that they play, so naturally they are going to have games where they play their worst basketball. As seniors, they have had time to mature their game and also get over bad games so that they happen less frequent and not at all. During what Harley believes was her worst game, the 49ers won in OT against Wright State on a 3 pointer.
“My freshman year at Syracuse, I was not ready and I had a lot of learning to do playing on the collegiate level in the ACC. We played Rhode Island; I made one three and everything else was horrible. I didn't even know where I was supposed to be on the court so I got subbed out and it was a learning experience,” said Phillips.
In their senior year, these ladies have big plans and big goals for finishing out their careers as 49ers. They put in all this work and effort over the years to be where they are now and now they are about to graduate and move on to greener pastures. Once they leave the school one thing will never change. Charlotte will always be their home and they will be Niners for life.