Thornton brings NJ basketball to Howard

LOIS ELFMAN | 8/6/2020, midnight
Heading into her senior year and eyeing her 1,000th career point, Howard University guard Jayla Thornton hopes that she and ...
Jayla Thornton Howard University Athletics photo

Heading into her senior year and eyeing her 1,000th career point, Howard University guard Jayla Thornton hopes that she and her fellow Bison will be able to get back on the court this fall. Thornton has been sheltering in place with her parents in New Jersey and despite seeing last season cut short, her motivation remains high.

“What keeps me motivated is my family and my drive to be successful,” said Thornton. “Since I was a little girl I always set little goals for myself to accomplish. As I get older and I see myself accomplish those goals little by little, it gives me the drive to keep going.”

To sustain her motivation these past five months she has been diving into her interests outside of basketball. “In the beginning it was very difficult,” she said. Once she allowed reality to settle, Thornton embraced family time, the longest she’s been home since starting college three years ago. Sheltering in place gave her the time and space to be grateful for the many opportunities she’s had.

Thornton’s major is sports management and her minor is broadcast journalism. She’s been expanding her knowledge and learning online as well as exploring possible internships. She’s also given careful thought to what she wants to do after graduation. “Diving in deeper about myself, especially going into my senior year,” she said.

In thinking about people she’d like to interview, Thornton expressed an interest in sitting down with WNBA Champion, Olympic gold medalist Maya Moore, who has recently taken a step back from her pro career to focus on overturning the conviction of Jonathan Irons, who was recently released from prison.

“I would love to pick her brain about basketball and also dive deeper into her overall mentality,” said Thornton. “I would also love to find out how she maintains her mental health throughout her journey.”

Thornton’s basketball journey began in middle school gym class. A friend encouraged her to try out for the school team. Once she made the team, it was full steam ahead. She credits all the coaches she’s worked with along the way as well as her family for building her into the player she is today.

She picked Howard University for the balance of academics and athletics. It felt just right when she took her visit. Learning about the university’s rich history sealed the deal. “Every day I feel myself growing as a young woman,” she said.