Jada Battle had a realization.

When organized basketball was paused due to the pandemic, it didn’t take long for the SouthWest Edgecombe basketball player to discover how much the game of basketball was interwoven into her life.

“I feel like the pandemic made me want to go harder,” Battle said. “I feel like we all take things for granted and we can’t do that because some things can be taken from you at any given time. So that pushed me to push myself much harder. I learned that you have to do what you can, when you can.”

Battle said she took her workouts more seriously and made it a point to be in the gym nearly every day. Working on her shooting from range, dribbling with her left hand and becoming more explosive in her movements consumed her.

That training paid off as the Cougars’ standout guard signed to play basketball at Barton College in Wilson. Battle was recognized during a signing ceremony on Monday at SWE that was attended by family and coaches.

SWE coach Sandra Langley is a Barton alumn, and said she was excited that one of her standout players will attend her former school. Langley also noted that Battle’s traits, like court vision and attacking the basket, will be a great fit for the Bulldogs.

After all, Langley and the Cougars benefitted the past four years from Battle’s ability to find open players and facilitate, while also handling the bulk of the ball handling and the scoring load.

“Her freshman year she had three people on her and she could still get the ball down the court by herself,” Langley recalled. “(Barton likes) that she can pass well, see the floor well, and she hounds the ball. She’s played a lot of good basketball over the four years she’s been here. She sacrificed her scoring average to be a great passer. She can get it to you. And when she wasn’t out on the floor you could tell the difference.”

Battle averaged a team-high 19.3 points and 6.6 assists as a senior this past season that was shortened to 13 games due to COVID-19. She was a four-time Eastern Plains all-conference selection, she scored more than 1,000 points in her career and was the Telegram’s player of the year after her sophomore season when she averaged 14.4 points and 7.1 assists per game.

As a freshman, Battle contributed 9.1 points and a team-leading 6.2 assists. She went from a knowledgeable player to a formidable threat to opponents in a number of ways.

“We talked about point guards having to be unselfish,” Langley said, “and I saw her really grow into a good point guard. She was so good at seeing the court and hitting the open person.”

Battle received interest from Louisburg College and William Peace, and she said that the decision of choosing her college home weighed on her.

“At times it was a little tough because I was like what if I don’t make the right choice?” she said. “And I just had to make that choice for myself and not for anybody else.”

When asked if she thought about what she wanted to study in college, the senior didn’t hesitate.

“Definitely,” she said. “I want to do either sports management, exercise science or physical therapy. Really something in sports medicine. I like going to the doctor and seeing what’s going on. And I was taking a nursing class and I was thinking, ‘I really want to be in this type of field.’”

As for what’s next, Battle is excited to play at the next level. Most of all, she is looking forward to continue playing basketball for at least the next four years.

“It doesn’t get old,” Battle said of the sport. “It’s just something that I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of. I know I’m not counting on basketball for my entire life, but it’s something that I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of playing.”