Starkville High School's Covington signs with East Central Community College

Starkville's Jariyah Covington celebrates her signing with family on Monday.
Staff Writer

Blair Schaefer had just finished her career at Starkville High School and was moving on to the next level when Kristie Williams had to decide on the future of her program both immediate and long term.

In the middle of that plan for the Lady Yellowjackets was eighth grader Jariyah Covington whose parents were notified that it was about to be her time.

In her freshman year, Covington was contributing for SHS and she will go down as one of the more pivotal pieces for Williams’ program.

There are 110 wins and only 11 losses that marked the impact that she helped make over a four-year period. She finished as a second-team All-State basketball player by USA Today, A Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen member and the Starkville Daily Co-Player of the Year in the area.

“Over the course of these four years I’ve seen her develop as an athlete,” Williams said of Covington. “She came in in the shadows of Blair Schaefer and that was big shoes to fill in a varsity program as a ninth grader. She took it all in stride.”

On Monday afternoon, Covington’s long journey with Williams as a Lady Jacket came to an end. She signed her letter of intent to continue her basketball career with the East Central Community College Lady Warriors in Decatur.

It’s not quite the end of the road for her basketball career and she views it as just the beginning.

“If you know me, you know that basketball is my passion and my first love," Covington said. "It’s everything to me. To keep playing, it’s a dream come true. I want to eventually get into a D-I school in the SEC and go pro.”

Covington had options from around the state that included Meridian Community College, East Mississippi Community College and Jones Junior College.

East Central Community College was the place that felt the most like home and from the president down to the students on campus, Covington felt welcome.

Though former coach Crandal Porter is no longer at ECCC after recruiting Covington, she’s had a chance to connect with new coach and former Ole Miss player LaTaryl Williams. Covington feels just as comfortable with Williams as she did with Porter and the former staff.

“(My decision) all came down to where I felt comfortable," Covington said. "It’s a family environment down there. The pace of the game is just how I play and I really bonded with the coach well. He is a great guy and has a daughter so I know he’ll treat us just like he treats her.”

A storied career comes to an end in a SHS uniform, but Covington and her coach wouldn’t trade the way it ended for anything. The talented point guard finished things out as a senior with 13.1 points per game, 4.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and three steals per outing, while hitting 78 percent from the free-throw line.

Add in back-to-back state championship trophies, and her legacy is set in stone. Now, Covington gets the chance to continue to write her legacy beyond high school. Her coach thinks she’ll be successful.

“I think she’ll do fine,” Covington said. “Her confidence is really high right now. She has a lot of poise going into the next level and to be a point guard, you’ve got to have poise and confidence to deal with all of that you’re going to face.”