COLUMBUS, Ga. – The father of a local basketball phenom is using their experience together to encourage other girls to play. Jaylah Todd started receiving national attention at the age of six for her basketball skills.
Her father, Jeffery Todd, now coaches the third and fourth grade Amateur Athletic Union basketball teams. He is in his second year coaching elementary aged girls.
“There was a lot of hype around my daughter, Jaylah Todd who was in the first grade and we got girls that never played before,” he said.
He says the teams weren’t very competitive initially.
“Toward the end of the year, the girls really start working out hard even when the gym was closed we would go to outside so, we was practicing six days a week especially sometimes summer. The girls start turning it around. We start winning a lot more tournaments,” Todd explained.
This year, the Finest Basketball Club picked the teams up, which Todd says is one of the biggest travel basketball programs in the country.
“Now they’re perspectively one of the best teams in the state and we have a couple girls on the team that’s ranked nationally. We have a girl in fourth grade, is the number 10 fourth grader in the country. Her name is Ivyonna Thomas,” he said.
Ivyonna Thomas has only been playing basketball for six months.
“I want to set records in the WNBA,” she said.
She attributes practicing handling drills and layups at home to her quick success.
“I like to bring the ball up the court and I like to score,” she said.
Todd coaches third and fourth grade girls with the exception of his daughter who is younger.
“What makes it special is something that started out as I just wanted to help a couple girls out and I’m forming two great basketball teams and it gave a place for my daughter as well as other daughter to have a place to grow. It’s special that they’re all part of Girls Inc. and now they all have a future,” Todd said.
The teams practice year round, six days a week. Their first tournament this season will be in Little Rock, Arkansas February 25th.