By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Those who shared the basketball court with Sylvia “Bugg” Jones said she has a quiet focus.
That reminds her family members of her father William. Then there were times the Brighton Lady Cardinal guard was vocal and had a passion to push her teammates.
That is clearly the personality trait of her mother Inita. Inita and William have been there through all the success of Bugg on the court growing up in Tipton County to her recent signing to East Central Community College.
On May 2 in their Brighton home, William and Inita transformed the day into a holiday for their beloved daughter.
“It took a lot, I’ve come a long way from where I started,” Sylvia said. “I started in rec ball I couldn’t even dribble or shoot with my left hand. I started off as a post. After all that hard work, going to all these camps and working with coaches in private sessions, I developed into the player I am today.
“And I’m still developing more,” she added. “I didn’t get here all by myself. It took a lot of help. Without them no of these would have been helping. Who was there taking me to the camps? Who was paying for the sessions? I haven’t been driving forever. They played a major part.”
Bugg’s support system came in shifts throughout the signing party to congratulate the All-Region 7-3A standout.
“First I’m going to say God and secondly I’m going to say our parents got her here today,” Sylvia’s big sister Shenita Sayers said. “Then a little help from her big sister. We just made sure kept made think to keep God first. Also I try to stay on her and push her. I try to make sure she stays on the right path and to always be a leader and not a follower. It’s basically her, she’s always been a leader and never a follower. I was speaking to her the other day about maturity. She’s grown so much.”
Bugg matured into the 2019 District 13-3A MVP and All-Star caliber basketball players with consistent support from her family. At the age when most of her female peers were moving away from basketball, Jones continued to play the game on boys’ team.
“In sixth grade she got a lot of playing time,” William recalled. “She started proving herself. She learned to get her handles better. She’s always been a pass-first guard. It’s a natural thing for her to get her teammates involved.”
East Central Coach LaTaryl Williams wanted Jones on his team because of her natural unselfish style and ability to grow offensively.
“It’s exciting day, at the same time I’m feeling some type of way,” Williams acknowledged. “We have a good feel about it. We went on the visit with her to East Central. It’s a small town in Decatur, Miss. Seems to be a safe campus. We met the president and of course the basketball coach. I was impressed.”
Williams said he was impressed by his daughter since her days playing in the old Brighton Gymnasium and under the guidance of Brighton Middle School Coach Russ Jones.
In high school Jones was guided by David Wampler and Stan Gatlin. Despite changes within the varsity program, Jones knew she could count on the presence of her family led by Momma Inita.
“It makes me feel good because she has been so encouraging to the other players pushing them along,” Inita said. “‘Hey guys we can do this.’ She was a team player.
“Her attitude, respectful, listening and staying focus, I hope she grows out from that apprehension,” Inita acknowledged. “She thinks sometimes I need to take over. I need to do this. She needs to learn to finish it.”
Inita said Bugg will learn how to take over a game and keep her teammates involved with the guidance of the staff in Mississippi. She will be there to continue to root her on through the next chapter.
“Her hard work and hard playing, and I guess me hollering, screaming and cheering her on,” she recalled, “and she put Him first. I just pushed her on and I told her, ‘Whatever God has for you, nobody can take it. Just do the best you can. Don’t try to be perfect but be a team player.’”
Sayers said family being consistent through her basketball highs and lows kept her sister on the path to college basketball.
“We just wanted to let her know, ‘You do have that support,’” she said. “’Keeping going forward no matter what. Always keep striving for your goals.’ With us just being there, we wanted her to know you have much more than just your teammates, coaches and school. You have family too.
“I hope she plans to go to a four-year college after this and I hope she continues her career to the WNBA,” Sayers added. “She has that kind of ability because Sylvia is a leader out there on the court. I feel like she has the skills and the mindset she needs to get to the next level.”
From the one-on-one games with big brother Quatavis Jones to the critiques of her father William, Jones said it took a village to get her to her dream of playing college basketball.
“My family, I used to play football with the boys,” Bugg recalled. “Built my toughness and developed a roughness and my body control.
“Once I started playing I feel in love with basketball,” she added. “I decided early I was going to keep going.”
William, Inita and the crew jumped on board to support her dreams.
“I want to thank y’all for supporting me and never giving up on me up till this point,” Bugg said. “Thanks for believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Just thank you.”
Bugg also gave a moment of gratitude to those who doubted her, kept her motivated to prove them wrong.
“Everybody says I’m too passive,” she acknowledged. “At first I didn’t see it. But I started to understand them later. I don’t know I’ve always been a pass-first guard. Even if I had it but I say they had the shot too, I would just pass it. It’s in my mind to ‘pass first, pass first.’”
“I hope they say about my legacy, ‘She was a great player and a great person off the court,” Jones concluded. “She wasn’t selfish. She was very enthusiastic when it came to the game, her teammates. She was very passionate about the game. She loved the game.’”