Long before she set foot on the hardwood for the first time as a Bronco, Jayde Christopher’s Boise State basketball teammates were talking her up.
Thirteen games into the 2018-19 season, Christopher has lived up to the hype.
The 5-foot-8 redshirt junior point guard leads the Broncos (11-2, 2-0 MW) with 75 assists and counting entering Saturday’s Mountain West Conference matchup against San Jose State. Tipoff is 1 p.m. at Taco Bell Arena. The game will be streamed online at WatchStadium.com and on the radio on 1350 AM.
Christopher’s 5.77 assists per game average puts her right on pace to contend for the program’s single-season assists record. Yaiza Rodriguez set the bar with 192 assists in 33 games during the 2016-17 season.
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“For some people, the game is really slow. Now obviously Jayde’s super, super quick, but the game is real slow and so she sees things a step ahead,” Boise State women’s basketball coach Gordy Presnell said. “Her vision on the floor is as good as I’ve ever seen. She’s a different kind of point guard than Yaiza was, but she sees things like a second ahead and is able to respond accordingly.”
Christopher sat out last season after transferring from Kansas, but it wasn’t a wasted year. If anything, it helped her teammates get used to her speedy style of play.
“In the beginning, I was terrible at catching her passes, because she’ll throw dimes so fast,” Boise State junior A’Shanti Coleman said. “… But we used to be on the same teams a lot during scrimmaging, so we’ve kind of been eying things. I feel like she always has her head on a swivel and her eyes are always up. She’s always looking to pass.”
Christopher and Coleman have no trouble connecting now. Christopher assisted on five of Coleman’s nine baskets in the Broncos’ 69-66 win at San Diego State on Jan. 5, including two no-look passes and a between-the-legs bounce pass.
“In middle school I shot a lot more, but then I was like: ‘Hmm. I kind of like passing a lot and getting other people involved,’ ” Christopher said. “... In high school it really, really became my thing. … Whatever makes other people happy.”
In the Broncos’ two games at the Husky Classic in December, Christopher set tournament (19) and single-game (11) records for assists. Christopher’s 11 assists against Saint Francis also was just three short of tying Boise State’s single-game record of 14, which current senior Marta Hermida established last season against San Jose State.
And with the Spartans (1-12, 0-2 MW) in town Saturday, Hermida’s record could be in jeopardy.
“Our posts would have to have their hands up all the time, because she’ll hit you in the nose if you’re not looking with a ball,” Presnell said. “If everyone is finishing, there’s definitely a possibility of that (record) happening.”
While Christopher’s ability to anticipate and stay a step ahead of opposing defenses allows her to create scoring opportunities for her teammates, those teammates value much more than just her generosity.
It’s rare to see the Federal Way, Washington, native without a smile, and she’s often caught during practice doing some little dance to lighten the mood.
“I’m just really goofy. I love making other people laugh,” Christopher said. “I’m weird, but in a good way.”
Earlier this season, Christopher and sophomore Tess Amundsen joined some of Boise State’s Mane Line dancers to perform the dance to R&B singer Ciara’s song “Level Up.” The video was used to promote the Broncos’ season opener later that week.
“She has a bubbly personality. Everyone loves her,” Coleman said. “She loves to laugh and joke around. She’s a great teammate on and off the court.”
Men: Boise State won’t overlook SJSU
San Jose State’s 3-11 overall record and 0-3 mark in league play is the worst among Mountain West Conference teams, but Boise State coach Leon Rice still expects a battle.
The Broncos (7-8, 2-0 MW) play at The Event Center at 1 p.m. MT on Saturday in San Jose, California. The game will be streamed online at TheMW.com and on the radio on 670 AM.
The Spartans have lost their last five games, but seven of their 11 losses have come by single digits.
“Sometimes when a team goes through a stretch like that and they lose and they lose and they lose, they kind of quit and sack their bats and you see that in their body language,” Rice said. “You don’t see that with (San Jose State). They’re competing and they’re fighting, and it’s almost regardless of time and score.
“When you get a team like that, that’s always dangerous, because they’re just plugging away and they will get it going on somebody.”
Boise State, Fresno State and UNLV are the only teams left in the Mountain West with perfect league records. The Broncos also are chasing their first three-game win streak of the season.