(Story has been updated)
The Hamilton Heights girls’ basketball standouts Elizabeth Balogun and Jazmine Massengill have been selected to play in the prestigious McDonald’s All-America basketball game in late March in Atlanta.
They will play in Philips Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, so they should feel right at home.
Balogun and Massengill got the news Tuesday afternoon.
“They are excited and thankful,” Lady Hawks coach Keisha Hunt said in a telephone interview.
“It’s a great honor to be chosen to these teams, especially getting two players from the same school. A lot of good players weren’t chosen, but our girls have dreamed about this. They’re good kids and they deserve it.”
Since school was out on Tuesday, Balogun was at Hunt’s house and watched the show on ESPN. And, frankly, Balogun was confused.
“At first, they showed the East team and I saw that Jazmine made it,” she said. “I thought, oh my goodness, I didn’t make it. I was nervous. Then it showed the West team and my name was there. I was so excited. It was a surprise.”
Massengill also watched the TV show and was with friends.
“I wasn’t really expecting to get named,” she said, but when I saw my name on the TV I was really excited. We were all excited. It was so surprising.
“Back when I was younger and starting to take basketball seriously, I dreamed of being a McDonald’s All-American. I played through injuries and was challenged physically and mentally. That makes today special.”
While the state of Texas placed seven players on the squads, Hamilton Heights is one of two teams to have two players chosen. The other teammates are Honesty Scott-Grayson and Shakira Austin from Riverdale Baptist, from Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
The University of Tennessee has three signees on the rosters -- Massengill and Amira Collins on the East squad and Zarielle Green on the West. Collins is from Pope Paul VI Catholic in Fairfax, Virginia, and Green plays at Duncanville (Texas) High School.
Both players have started all four years with the Lady Hawks and helped the team reach the 2017 Dick’s Sporting Goods national championship game in New York. The Lady Hawks have won 17 of 19 games this season and are ranked No. 2 nationally in the ESPN Super 25 poll.
Balogun, a 6-foot wing, is originally from Lagos, Nigeria, and moved to Chattanooga when she was 13 years old, entering the eighth grade at Hamilton Heights. To date, Balogun has scored 1,273 career points while grabbing 486 rebounds.
Balogun, who has signed with Georgia Tech, is averaging 18.3 points per game this season and will play for the West squad in the March.
“I didn’t know I would play college ball and it didn’t matter what college I went to,” Balogun said. “I just wanted to go to college and maybe play. For McDonald’s, this was something I wanted. I worked hard for a long time and it has to be the best thing of my life. I’ve wanted this since my eighth-grade year.”
Massengill, a 6-foot point guard is from Chattanooga and became the first Chattanoogan to sign a Lady Vols scholarship last November during the early signing period. She arrived at Hamilton Heights as a freshman.
She has scored 1,100 career points, recorded 509 assists, has a 3.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and pulled down 521 rebounds during her career.
Massengill is averaging 10.26 points and the assist-to-turnover is currently an amazing 9.8-to-1.
Now, Massengill has a couple of career milestones awaiting here down the home stretch of her final season at Hamilton Heights.
“McDonald’s is a great honor, but signing with the University of Tennessee was even a greater moment for me,” she said. “Not everybody gets to do that. But playing in McDonald’s and then, hopefully, we can get back to Dick’s national. McDonald’s and Dick’s would be a perfect way to end my high school career.”
Earlier, Balogun and Massengill were placed on the 25-player mid-season Naismith Award watch list for the best girls’ high school basketball player in the country.
“This type thing has been a long time coming,” Hunt said. “We’ve worked hard for years and finally we’re seeing some fruits of our labor. Jazmine and Elizabeth are good kids who could have played for anybody, but we’re thankful they’re here at Hamilton Heights.
“They believe in what we’re trying to do and this will help us continue to be focused on our goals. We haven’t arrived yet and there are things we can do better.”
Baylor led all colleges with four signees selected on the teams, which will play on March 28 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
The East team will be coached by Dawn Seiler, of Aberdeen (South Dakota) Central High School and Jeannie Hebert, of Truax, Wasilla (Alaska) will coach the West.
McDonald’s Girls All-America Game Rosters
College in Parenthesis
Jazmine Massengill – PG, 6-0, Hamilton Heights, Chattanooga, Tenn. (Tennessee)
Shakira Austin – F, 6-5, Riverdale Baptist, Upper Marlboro, Md. (Maryland)
Jenna Brown – PG, 5-10, Lovett School, Atlanta, Ga. (Stanford)
Amira Collins – P, 6-3, Paul VI Catholic, Fairfax, Va. (Tennessee)
Emily Engster – W, 6-2, St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows, N.Y. (Syracuse)
Destanni Henderson – PG, 5-8, Fort Myers, Fla. (South Carolina)
Valencia Myers – P, 6-3, Solon, Ohio (Florida State)
Olivia Nelson-Odoba – P, 6-4, Winder-Barrow, Winder, Ga. (Connecticut)
Izabela Nicoletti – G, 5-10, Neuse Christian Academy, Raleigh, N.C. (Florida State
Jordan Nixon – PG, 5-8, The Mary Louis Academy, Jamaica Estates, N.Y. (Texas)
Sedona Prince – P, 6-7, Liberty Hill, Liberty Hill, Texas (Texas)
Madison Williams – W, 5-10, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, Texas (Oklahoma)
Elizabeth Balogun – W, 6-0, Hamilton Heights, Chattanooga, Tenn. (Georgia Tech)
Charli Collier – F 6-5, Barbers Hill (Mont Belvieu, Texas), (Texas)
Aquira DeCosta – W, 6-2, Sant Mary’s, Stockton, Calif. (Baylor)
Elizabeth Dixon – F, 6-3, Ridgeway, Memphis, Tenn. (Georgia Tech)
Queen Egbo – P, 6-3, Travis, Richmond, Texas (Baylor)
McKenzie Forbes – W, 6-0, Folsom, Folsom, Calif. (California)
Katlyn Gilbert – PG, 5-10, Heritage Christian, Dyer, Ind. (Notre Dame)
Zarielle Green – G, 6-0, Duncanville, Duncanville, Texas (Tennessee)
Catherine Reese – F, 6-2, Cypress Woods, Cypress Woods, Texas (Arizona)
Honesty Scott-Grayson – PG, 5-10, Riverdale Baptist, Upper Marlboro, Md. (Baylor)
NaLyssa Smith – F, 6-2, East Central, San Antonio, Texas (Baylor)
Christyn Williams – G, 5-11, Central Arkansas Christian, N. Little Rock, Ark. (Connecticut)
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)