We have reached the top 5 in our countdown of Outside the Huddle’s Top 50 girls basketball players. This is No. 5 in our annual preseason crowning of the top 5 players in northeast Indiana that we call the ‘First Five;’ our highest individual preseason honor.
The ‘First Five’ was started in 2018, following in the 35-plus year tradition of naming the top five area basketball players, started by a now defunct prep sports department in Fort Wayne. It is our honor to pick up and carry on that tradition with the ‘First Five,’ including our fourth group of honorees coming this season at the top of our Top 50 countdown.
No. 5 Saniya Jackson, Northrop
Jackson will wear new colors this year as she now is a Northrop Bruin, but that won’t change the impact that she will have on her team and the SAC. Fresh off a conference title last season at Carroll, Jackson is a born winner and if you know her family, you know it runs in her blood. A chance to play for her mom as the coach could really ramp up Jackson’s tenacity, something she has showcased over her first two seasons and something her mom has always expected from players as a coach earlier in her career. Jackson is a fighter, she plays bigger but she also has the length that IQ that make her a high level defender. She averaged 2.5 steals per game last season and had more games with 4 or more steals (7) than she did with a single steal (6) in 2020-21.
Her scoring will rise at Northrop because of the stylistic differences that will happen in the program, but she still managed 9.8 points per game last season as the third leading scorer for the SAC champion Chargers. Jackson brings a quality split in her shooting, going 38 percent from three point range, 52 percent from two point range and 79 percent (63-70) from the free throw line. Some of Carroll’s biggest wins last season came when Jackson could get to the line and succeed through contact. In two wins over Snider, she was a combined 12-of-12 from the line and she also shot 8-of-10 from the charity stripe in a Regional title win over Homestead.
COACH’S QUOTE ON SANIYA JACKSON
“She is a fierce competitor and hungry to return following ACL surgery. I look for her to pick right back up where she left off in April. She is the purest natural scorer we have on our team. She can guard any position 1-5, her ability to rebound and push makes her deadly in transition.” – Northrop coach Katie Jackson
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