“Her growth and her development, that’s why we’re in the Sweet 16 right now,” Littell said.
For Jones, it’s been a long journey to this point. At Putnam City, she said few people knew her real name. Everyone called her “Shaq,” but she didn’t consider playing Division I basketball until schools started to call her.
In her first year at OSU, the transition was almost too much to handle.
“I didn’t want to quit, but it was just days where I was like, ‘You just need to relax and calm down,’ ” Jones said. “I was overwhelmed. Everything wasn’t a cakewalk like it was in high school.”
Littell, then an assistant before coach Kurt Budke’s death that November, said it was noticeable.
“If I could look back and do things differently, I think we probably should have redshirted LaShawn the first year and gave her a chance to mature and figure out what it was all about,” Littell said.
But with the help of teammates and the motivation of making her mother, Deanna, proud, Jones pushed through the hard times.
Now, she’s reaping the rewards.
“There’s a lot of kids in today’s game, if they don’t get (playing time), they quit, they move on, they want to transfer,” Littell said. “They want instant gratification. I’m so pleased with what LaShawn has been as a person, as a player, as a student.
“She’s overachieved in every area, and it’s just because she’s worked real hard on everything from the academics to the basketball. That’s awfully rewarding for a coaching staff, when you see a young lady come that far in three years.”
Once a liability, Jones is the Cowgirls’ go-to option in the post.
“It’s unbelievable,” senior point guard Tiffany Bias said. “A whole lot of games, we’ve really rode on her just to get us through.”
Once lost, LaShawn Jones is right at home.
“I think you have to be very tough to sit on the bench and play behind two people and go through practice and work your butt off and get yelled at and then come the next day with a smile on your face,” Bias said. “That’s what LaShawn is.”