PREP BASKETBALL: Cullman’s Winfrey signs with Wallace State

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Cullman’s Jaden Winfrey signed her letter of intent to play at Wallace State at Cullman High School Thursday. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman High School’s Tillman Hall was packed with friends, family, teammates and coaches Thursday afternoon to help a Bearcat standout celebrate the next step of their athletic career. Lady Bearcats senior Jaden Winfrey signed her letter of intent to play for the Wallace State Lady Lions and she’s leaving behind quite a resume. In her prep career, Winfrey played in 113 games, recorded over 1,240 points (fifth all-time in Cullman history), over 580 rebounds, more than 300 assists and more than 350 steals. She also posted a career shooting percentage of 51% from the field, 37% from three-point range and 72% at the free throw line.

Cullman Head Coach Josh Hembree has seen Jaden develop into an elite player on the court and he’ll miss having her in the starting lineup but what he’ll miss just as much is the time he got to spend with her off the court.

“Jaden is a great young lady. She comes from a good family; she knows right from wrong and she’s just a kid who enjoys being a kid and happens to be really good at basketball,” Hembree said. “It’s been a blessing for me to have her not only as her coach, but I also see these girls every day in what we call Bearcat Enrichment for about 45 minutes and just to laugh with them and hear them tell stories and jokes, it’s just a neat relationship. Then to be able to step on the court and focus and move everyone towards a common goal is unique, and it’s something that I’ll cherish for a long time.”

Winfrey knew pretty quickly that Wallace was where she wanted to take her talents after high school. She’s enjoyed the time she’s spent on campus and has already known her new coach for years so she’s excited to get to work with the Lady Lions.

“It just felt like home, it’s close and it’s just a really good college,” Winfrey said. “I just loved it once I went over there. I also love the coach and I’ve known her for a long time so I’m really looking forward to it and it’s going to be good.”

Jaden has made a lot of friends and a lot of memories in her time at Cullman. She’s going to miss playing with her Lady Bearcat teammates and her head coach who she credits with helping her reach this goal.

“I’m definitely going to miss all the girls I played with, it broke my heart when we got put out, but I’m also going to miss Coach Hembree a lot,” Winfrey said. “He just pushed me to be a better player and I think that is what has helped me get here to be able to sign with Wallace.”

Wallace State Head Coach Jessica McBrayer was in attendance at Winfrey’s signing Thursday, and she’s known for many years that Jaden would be a great fit in her program.

“Jaden is a special person to me. I’ve been coaching her now for about 12 years but only in softball and soccer, never in basketball. So, I’ve known since she was a little girl what kind of athlete she is. She’s super competitive, gritty, does all the small things right and I’ve known that since she was little, so it’s been really cool to watch her develop in high school. We knew as soon as her senior year started that she was someone we didn’t wanted as part of our program. That’s how we play, we’re all about fast pace, grit and tenacity and she’s got all those things. We’re super excited because she’s going to fit in so well with us.”

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