Keri Jewett always thought she’d stay close to home to play college basketball.
But as her recruitment progressed, the Dunbar High School senior grew increasingly comfortable with the college that had been there from the start.
On Friday, the 5-foot-6 guard made it official, verbally committing to Southern Mississippi University.
“I made my decision a little bit ago but I was just waiting it out to see if it was actually what I wanted,” Jewett said. “Now I’m comfortable with it.
“Since Day 1, Southern Miss has been there. They were the first school to call me and they gave me my first full scholarship offer. That told me they were serious; they’re weren’t playing any games.”
She visited the college’s Hattiesburg campus in early September and took one other trip to the Golden Eagles’ Conference USA rival, Middle Tennessee State.
“When I was at (Southern Mississippi), I just felt like I fit in well,” Jewett said. “They have an up tempo style of play and that’s how I play so I can be successful there.
“They told me they’re not recruiting me to come up there and sit. I think I can have a major impact right away.”
Jewett canceled planned visits to Stony Brook and Boston University earlier this month and said she had interest from in-state schools South Florida and Florida Atlantic.
Southern Mississippi went 27-7 last season, losing to Middle Tennessee State in the Conference USA title game. The Golden Eagles played in the WNIT, advancing to the second round.
Dunbar girls basketball coach Dwayne Donnell said the college got a steal in Jewett.
“She’s going to elevate them,” he said. “I think they think they understand who this kid is. But they’re not really going to know who they got until she gets there and they see her work ethic, how she pushes herself and how determined she is.”
A two-time The News-Press All Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Jewett led Dunbar in scoring (15.9 points per game), assists (4.9), steals (3.2), and 3-pointers (49) last season, helping to power the Tigers to 29 wins and the Class 4A state championship game, Dunbar’s second title game in her three years with the program.