Photo credit: Chris M. Leung

When I asked Jasmine Gayles about joining the 40-Point Club, with the likes of Caitlin Clark and Mikaylah Williams, she brushed it off. (The 40-Point Club is for players who score more than 40 points in a game during one season). She didn’t brush the question aside in a bad way, but in a way that I understood she had more important things to talk about. And she did. Through our conversation I was inspired by her kindness, her insight into the game, and her desire to give back.

Jasmine is a guard for the University of San Francisco, who was named West Coast Conference player of the week twice this season. Jasmine, a graduate student, is currently the leading scorer for the team, averaging 16.8 points a game. In her 40-point game against Pacific, she added 4 assists, shot 60 percent from the field and made 17 of 22 free throws. The University of San Francisco Dons were picked to place 7th going into the league this season, but finished tied for 3rd and will travel to Las Vegas for the 2024 West Coast Conference Championships.

Before coming to University of San Francisco, Jasmine played two years at Northern Colorado averaging 8 points per game her freshman year and 11.7 points per game her sophomore year. In high school, Jasmine was a 3-year captain at West Seattle High School where she led her team to two district titles, scored over 1000 points and was named West Seattle High School Player of the year.

Jasmine, how does it feel to be part of the 40-point club?

It’s a good feeling of course, accomplishments are fun, but I think the group that I was able to do it with made it so much more special. You don’t get to score 40 points in a game unless you have teammates and coaches to support you and believe in you; good people around you that are encouraging you. I’m very grateful for the people around me.

And those people are your teammates and coaches at the University of San Francisco. So, tell me what’s a day-in-the-life of Jasmine Gayles look like?

First, we have morning practices, so I get up fifteen minutes before I need to leave, brush my teeth and have a quick breakfast. Then I go to the gym and we lift weights, and have practice and treatments. Oh, and I’m a big coffee drinker, so I get coffee at some point too. Also, I meal prep, so I have food ready for the week. And once home from practice, I usually do homework and hang out with my cats. I have two cats. Then I have dinner and maybe watch a show. When I don’t have school, I love to go and explore, maybe check out a new coffee shop. There are so many nice spots and new restaurants to try. I also like having friends over to watch movies and things like that.

If you were sitting down with friends to watch your favorite movie, what would that movie be?

I have a tough time picking favorites, but I think my favorite movie right now is The Pursuit of Happyness.

And two cats? Tell me about your cats.

I adopted my older cat LJ about a year into being at San Francisco. I actually really wanted a dog, I’ve always been a dog person and honestly didn’t really like cats. But I thought I wouldn’t be able to care for a dog properly while in season, so decided on a cat. LJ was the best company in SF. I brought him home over the summer and my brother and grandma LOVED her. They wanted their own cat, so when they came to visit me in SF, I got my brother a kitty from the shelter here, for him to take home to Seattle. The person working the shelter told us that since we got my brother a cat, we could take another one for free. Long story short, I’d been debating getting another cat, and my brother’s cat had a twin sister, [so my brother] told me I had to take her because then our cats would be siblings just like us. Moments like that don’t come around often with little brothers, so it felt like I just had to take her. And now I have LJ and Queso.

I love that story!

Ok, now let’s step back a bit. How did you decided where to go to college coming out of high school?

Out of high school I really wanted the opportunity to play. Freshman don’t always get to play, they have to put in their time, so I knew it was going to be hard to find the right situation. I wanted to get experience and wanted to spend my years playing. I was really lucky with the situation that I walked into at Northern Colorado, to have a coaching staff that believed in my 18-year-old self to come in and play point guard. I feel really lucky that they trusted me and put me in that position. So, I got a lot of experience there and met lots of good people. I still have close relationships with my teammates and coaches there. But eventually, I wanted to be in the city again. I’m from Seattle, a big city. It was fun to live in a small town as a freshman, it was good to focus on school and basketball, but I was ready for something new, needed something a little different. So, [after my sophomore year] I went into the portal.

How was it going into the transfer portal?

It was scary. I mean, I was talking to my trainer and coaches, and a lot of people were helping me, but you really don’t know what’s going to happen. What if you put your name in and nobody calls, and you can’t go back? I was stressed. I was a sophomore and it’s a lot for a 19-year-old to be able to make that decision. That’s crazy. So, it was scary but I was lucky that I had a lot of people guiding me. My coach at NC was also really awesome through the process, so, with my family and the support it made it a lot easier. I was just lucky to have that support system behind me.

Did you play other sports when you were in high school?

I played soccer and softball before high school, and I kept playing soccer into high school for a few years.

Did you play on a select basketball team?

Yes, I played with the same girls from elementary school through high school.

What was that experience like?

It was interesting. AAU is different than high school. It’s its own thing. There’s so much about exposure and social media right now, and for me that kind of took away from the experience. Elementary school basketball, I loved my team and if I could pick one team that I loved best, besides the one I’m on now, it would be that team. It was so much fun. That was the best time ever, but later with AAU it became about exposure and got away from basketball, fun basketball.

[Near the end of AAU], I got caught up in everything, and basketball just wasn’t fun. It was hard for me to balance who I was, and the exposure piece, and social media. Basketball is such a blessing, so I wish I had been in a better head space during that time. Because even with the hard days, basketball should still be fun. I definitely feel AAU is important, I would never tell someone not to play. It’s a place to get exposure to play at the next level. But it should also be fun. Basketball should bring you joy and make you happy.

Tell me a bit more about your transition from high school to college.


Academic wise I was focused and there are so many more resources in college. You have tutors and study hall and anything that you need. I always tell the incoming freshman that what you need is here for you, if you’re willing to use it. I was lucky that I had older teammates that were there for me and helped put me in the right direction. High school academics were always a priority for me, so that transition wasn’t as hard as the basketball transition.


I feel like once you get to your senior year in high school and you’re one of the oldest, it doesn’t start to feel easy, but everything feels right. Things fall into place. And then you get to college, and it’s like, oh my gosh, everyone is better than me. I was doing things like traveling every time I did a jab-step. And I was thinking, ‘why am I doing that? I don’t know what’s going on’. It was just a big shock. And I was our starting point guard, as a freshman. And I really wasn’t ready for that. So, it was scary and I felt more pressure, just a new level of pressure. Also, I had never experienced what a college practice was like. It was a totally different thing. When you reach college it’s a different level, and you’re a freshman and it’s all hard again.


I think for me the biggest thing when I transitioned into college and every year during college really, is just figuring out my purpose and what my identity is. When I was a freshman all of my identity came from what I did. It came from if I had a bad game or if I had a good game. If I had a good game, I’d feel good about myself and if I had bad game, I’d feel really bad about myself. It was a hard cycle, which made the experience more difficult than it needed to be. That’s what you have to figure out. That’s what I tell all the kids that I train, or when I talk to young fans and freshman teammates now, just figure out your identity and why you play. I’m not perfect but I’ve just figured out that I want to play so I can make connections and meet people and be a good human. It’s taken me time to care about who I am off the court.

If a kid comes to see me play and I can make their day and wave to them like players did for me when I was growing up and watching basketball. I want to make that connection. I remember talking to Kelsey Plum after a game. When she came and said hi to me, it was such a big interaction for me. There was also Jenna, who was a walk-on at UW who talked to me after a game, and she was always smiling and had a positive attitude. It was such a big deal to me that she was willing to take that time with young players. That makes all the difference in the world to young athletes.

If I can reach young athletes in that same way, it would mean a lot. That’s the type of person that I want to be. My identity now comes from the type of person that I am, not how many points I score or any of that. I don’t really care that I scored 40 points, I care that people remember that I made them feel good. I want to have that kind of impact.

What challenges have you faced and how did you work through them?

Injuries have definitely been a struggle for me, especially because I have never given myself the right kind of break. Fortunately, I have learned, but in the past, I just wanted to go go go, put in the extra time, which is important too, but I didn’t know when to take a break. College practices are just so different, and you practice so much more and play so much more. I started to get these little aches in my knees and then a little achilles pain, and the little pains just keep getting worse and the little injuries started taking me out for a few weeks or even a month. I could play in the game, but sometimes I couldn’t practice for three days. I was so in the mindset that I had to be going all the time. I thought taking a break meant I was weak, so I kept pushing. I was just really bad at listening to my body. My trainers would say, be honest with me, and I was like I’m fine, until it was to a point where I was forced to take a break. Fortunately, I haven’t had too many serious injuries. I did tear my ACL in high school, but [since then] I’ve been really lucky. And I’m really grateful that I have coaches that make sure that I take breaks. So definitely make sure to listen to your body.

And there are so many other things you can do to improve your game. Basketball is so wholistic. I didn’t realize until I was older, when I was forced to take a break, that there are so many other things that can carry you. Basketball is just as much mental and you can work there.

Do you have other thoughts about the game that young athletes might want to here?

I always tell myself that the day when basketball stops being fun, I’m not going to play anymore. There are going to be hard days. You don’t always have the best days, the best games, and the best practices, but at the end of the day, basketball should always bring joy.

You have a Business Finance degree and this year you’re finishing up a marketing program. What are your plans after college?

I’m hoping to go overseas and keep playing. It’s a really cool opportunity to travel. I love to travel, so if I can play basketball and see the world, I would love to do that. But I also want to go to law school at some point. I was planning to study for my LSAT this year, but this has been the hardest school year that I’ve ever had, so, I couldn’t study as much as I need to prepare for it. Now I’m planning on studying for the LSAT while I play next year, and then take the test when I feel ready. And if I want to keep playing, I will keep playing as long as I can and my body feels good, and then go to law school after that. So, I’d like to play basketball and go to law school.

Who inspires you?

The women in my life. My mom always, but also my two grandmas, they’re the biggest Jasmine basketball fans. I just feel the women in my life have set the ground work for me. They are so full of life, so joyful, always smiling. They didn’t play basketball, they’re short and not athletic, but they have always been unwavering support for me. No matter what I do, they are there for me. I have always felt their support. Now, when sometimes it feels like there is more pressure, and back when I was a freshman during the times when I felt like the whole world was falling down, they were always there for me. Never ending support. I’m so lucky. They are always there to make me feel safe and make me feel happy. These women are the foundation of who I am. I want to be like them.

Tell me more about what is important to you as a college athlete.

College athletes can have a big impact in this role and with this platform. A lot of good can come from it. When I was growing up I felt like college athletes were so busy they must not have time for me. We are busy as athletes, but I like to make time for the people who reach out to me. Just give back a little, because I feel like I most definitely would not still be playing basketball if it weren’t for my support system. Those athletes, coaches, and teammates that helped and guided me. I feel like it’s so important to give back. Like with the fans and the young girls that come to the game, I can give them a hug and a talk to them. I feel like, you’re never too busy to be a good person.

What advice would you give to young athletes?

Figure out who you are and why you play the game. I wish I had figured this out so much earlier. Like when they ask you on a recruiting form in high school I was like, I don’t know. I have no idea. And when asked about my hobbies, I had no idea. It took me a long time to figure it out. Now I know. I like to cook. I like to explore and be with my friends. I didn’t know any of that when I got to college because all I knew was basketball. Obviously, there is no success without putting in the work and getting into the gym and all of that, but I think, just as important, is knowing life outside of basketball. It’s just so easy to get caught up in everything that is happening in basketball. I mean, sometimes I would have a game and keep thinking about it. And not let it go.

I had a game, that I tell every freshman about, where I had 8 turnovers, and the girl who was guarding me had 8 steals. It became ingrained in my mind. I literally couldn’t get that game out of my head, but slowly I learned to let those things go. Games happen, and life goes on. And if you have things other than basketball happening in your life, it helps that process. Things that you can do to enjoy life. I used to play the game, watch the game, talk about the game and then go to the gym and be worried about the game at practice. It was a horrible cycle, and now I feel like I’ve learned from my mistakes.

Recently I missed a 3-pointer that would have helped win the game and I was upset after the game, but I let myself be upset for 30 minutes and then I moved on. Of course I called my mom [to vent] a little, but after that, life goes on. I’ve learned that stressing about the game and being upset with myself, isn’t going to make me play better. I wish I had learned that earlier. Basketball is important, but try to figure out who you are and why you’re playing the game, and find hobbies and other things that you enjoy doing.


PeaceLoveBasketball interview Jasmine Gayles with young fans

PeaceLoveBasketball Interview Jasmine Gayles