March 31, 2024 

Jaylyn Sherrod, Colorado fought ’til the end

'No quit whatsoever in this ballclub'

With 2:46 remaining in a lopsided game in favor of the No. 1 seed Iowa Hawkeyes, Colorado guard Jaylyn Sherrod dove to catch an out-of-bounds ball, landing hard on the scorer’s table and knocking down a laptop monitor. Though the game was well out of hand for the Buffs, Sherrod put her body on the line for her team. On Colorado’s next offensive play just seconds later, the 5’7 guard ran the length of the court and drove to the basket, dropping a dime to teammate Charlotte Whittaker for an easy layup.

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“No quit whatsoever in this ballclub,” Sherrod said postgame.

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Sherrod, originally from Birmingham, Alabama, received just one Power 5 scholarship offer — to play for JR Payne in Boulder. During her five years with the program, she’s had to fight for recognition as she has for her entire basketball career.

“I came [to Colorado], and they took a chance on me, and I took a chance on them — really means a lot,” Sherrod reflected. “Being told your whole life you’re too small, you can’t play on this level, you’re not good enough, and just coming out here — at the end of the day, yeah, we lost, but nobody can take away these past five years for me. Nobody can take away what I’ve done, what this team has done.”

This season, at last, the two-time All-Pac-12 guard received some recognition after the Buffs defeated defending champ LSU in the season opener and en route to leading the program to its highest AP Poll ranking in nearly 30 years.

Especially when the lights are brightest, Sherrod delivers for her squad. In 11 regular season games against ranked opponents, she averaged 17.2 points and 3.8 assists. In a Dec. 30 matchup against then-No. 12 Utah, she scored a career-high 34 points along with six steals, four rebounds and four assists. The performance earned Sherrod player of the week honors from ESPN, the Associated Press and the US Basketball Writers Association.

Off the court, Sherrod earned a bachelor’s degree in three years and is currently working towards a second master’s degree. From the time she stepped on campus at age 17 to now as a 22-year-old, she has been a model student-athlete. Through her significant contributions to the program and the campus community, she leaves Boulder better than she found it.

“If anyone knows Jaylyn you would know she loves a challenge, whether that’s in the court or in the classroom. Tell her she can’t graduate in three years and get two master’s degrees by the time she’s done and she’ll prove you wrong … I think her makeup is very similar to our entire team’s makeup. We love to play great competition. We love to go against great players. That challenge I think is exciting to her individually and collectively for the group … that’s everything you’d want in a point guard.”

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‘Family forever’

Jaylyn Sherrod, wearing a Colorado letter jacket, was able to hold back tears until the very last question she received before exiting the media dais following a disappointing defeat against Iowa. As coach JR Payne and teammate Quay Miller gently rubbed her back, comforting their steady, stoic leader, it was evident just how much this program means to its players and staff.

“A lot of people talk about family in their programs, and sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t, but these guys are family forever … In 20 years when they’re going through something, we’ll be the first ones that they call for support,” Payne said. “When I’m going through something 10 years from now, they’ll be the first ones that I call. That relationship is what makes what we do so special. The basketball is just the fun part. But the things that we have last forever — and no, I have no words to describe exactly what that means.”

Departing the program following this season are six seniors/graduate students. Notably, Sherrod and forward Charlotte Whittaker have spent five years with the program. Their departures coincide with Colorado’s departure from the Pac-12. Next season, the new-look Buffs will also compete in a new conference — the Big 12. Looking ahead, JR Payne doesn’t plan on her team losing any of its competitive edge or familial culture. As she always has, she’ll fight with her team no matter where they’re playing or who they’re playing against.

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“[The Pac-12] is the strongest conference in the country and has grown and proven to be really great on the national stage and things like that. But in the same breath, we have to be able to be appreciative of our experience and in due time be really excited for the next step, and I think all of us will do that. I know we certainly will … As long as all of us can keep playing, that’s the goal.”

Written by Tee Baker

Tee has been a contributor to The Next since March Madness 2021 and is currently a contributing editor, BIG EAST beat reporter and curator of historical deep dives.

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