Transfer guard Jayla James “100% committed to new beginnings” at MSU


Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant/Photo Credit: Ian Gilmour/WDBM

Charlotte Steinberg, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING – Jayla James, a freshman guard from Penn State University in the transfer portal, has just committed to head coach Suzy Merchant’s Michigan State Spartans. James, a 6-foot-1 guard from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was once rated as the third best recruit in the state while in high school.

James announced her commitment to Michigan State in an Instagram on Monday afternoon.


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100% Committed! New Beginnings… 🤩💚 #GoGreen! #GoWhite!

A post shared by Jayla James🤘🏽🏀 (@ayyee__jayy20) on

Before starting her career at Penn State, she spent her time at Paul VI Catholic High School before spending her final two years at Riverdale Baptist High School. She earned a pair of WCAC Championships and a state championship with Paul VI and was named the state’s most outstanding player in the 2016-17 season as a freshman.

James in her underclassmen years was playing for the No.1 ranked Paul VI Panthers. While at Riverdale Baptist High School for her junior and senior season, James led them to an Independent School national championship. At the end of her senior year, she was rated as the No. 22 player at the guard position by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report. 

Though at Penn State, James did not receive many minutes. The upcoming sophomore will be looking for a fresh start, as she averaged just over four minutes per game in 17 games. Her season high was 11 minutes played against N.C. Central in November. 

With having both Nia Clouden and James coming from the same state, there could be some chemistry brewing. Both high schools played each other, and even Clouden gave a shoutout to James via her Instagram to welcome her to Michigan State. 

There has been lots of movement around the Big Ten lately with players moving to different teams. Examples include Leigha Brown, who is transferring from Nebraska to Michigan, Jorie Allen leaving Indiana and even James’ teammate at Penn State Mya Bembry going to Seton Hall. 

This is not a surprising move for Merchant and the Spartans. With only one hard commit in Kendall Bostic, a four-star recruit and the No. 67 recruit out of Kokomo, Indiana, Merchant needed to boost her bench. 

With seniors Taryn McCutcheon, Victoria Gaines, Shay Colley and Nia Hollie departing, the Spartans will have to lean on some of their younger players. Sophomores Tory Ozment, Nia Clouden and Kayla Belles will have to lead the charge for the Spartans to be victorious. James could be a bright spot for this team, but will need to earn her minutes.

Follow Charlotte Steinberg on Twitter @SportsTalkByCS.