Monroe's Burks signs with GSW

Photo by Mike Phillips

Photo by Mike Phillips

ALBANY -- From defensive stopper to defense attorney.

It doesn't happen often, but that's the idea for Monroe's Jessica Burks, who signed an academic/athletic scholarship on Monday with Georgia Southwestern, where she will be a big addition to the basketball team.

Burks was that priceless player on the court, where her job was the same every night: Stop the opponent's best player.

"She was our defensive stopper,'' said Monroe coach Cheryl Cheeks, who turned Monroe's girls basketball program around over the last two years. Burks was a big part of that. She averaged 10 points and six rebounds over the past two seasons, despite battling a tough hamstring injury that sidelined her part of her senior season.

She also was the leader of Monroe's softball team, where she played shortstop and catcher and hit over .300.

But the numbers that really count are the ones she put up in the classroom, where Burks has a 3.89 GPA and will graduate seventh in her class.

"I want to major in political science, and become a lawyer,'' said Burks, who has other offers. Clark of Atlanta had a deal on the table but Burks walked away.

"I didn't want to go to Atlanta,'' she said. "I wanted to stay close to home, where my family could see me play. And when I visited the school it felt like home. I was there (last Friday) and played with the team in practice. I liked the team. There was a good vibe with the team. I liked the coach and everything felt like home.''

Burks was surrounded by friends and family on Monday when she signed the letter of intent, and no one doubts she will succeed in whatever she pursues.

"She has always been an excellent student,'' Cheeks said. "She has great potential. She was a good ballhandler and player, and she was our best defensive player. We would tell her, 'we need you to stop their best player,' whoever it was. And she did a great job. She was our defensive go-to-player.''