by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WAKE FOREST — Mount Olive women’s basketball coach Wendy Lee added some power and athleticism to her team for the next four years after signing Wake Forest-Rolesville player Kiara Jones-Doctor to a letter of intent.
After dominating the action on the hardwood in high school, the 5-feet-8-inches power forward said she is excited to continue her basketball playing career.
“I’m looking forward to the college experience and transitioning from high school basketball to college basketball,” Jones-Doctor said. “I feel that Mount Olive will be a great place for that.”
Jones-Doctor, who plays taller than her actual height, averaged 11.4 points and 11.6 rebounds for the Cougars during her senior year and had a few double doubles along the way.
She was the team’s Most Valuable Player last season and was also Cap 8 All-Conference her junior and senior year and received Academic All-Conference all four of her varsity years at Wake Forest-Rolesville.
She is a tough player under the basket and has a high basketball IQ from her middle school and high school years of playing.
“Offensively I would say I’m a go-getter,” Jones-Doctor said. “I hustle every play and I go after every rebound.”
She also describes herself as a team player, who works very hard defensively.
“I’m the glue to the defense because I always talk and yell so my teammates know exactly what to do and where the open man is,” she said.
Jones-Doctor said she was considering gymnastics at first, but decided that basketball was what she liked best.
“When I started to play basketball, that’s when I knew I wanted to play in college and pursue this as a life-long dream,” she said.
Before her decision, Jones-Doctor was looking at attending Methodist College but after visiting Mount Olive, things changed.
“After visiting Mount Olive, I knew I wanted to go there,” she said. “I chose the school because I love the coaches and the basketball team was very helpful. They are like family and it was like I was supposed to be there.”
Brianna Williams, who coached Jones-Doctor during her junior year at Wake Forest-Rolesville, also played at Mount Olive during 1998-2002 and helped her former player in the recruiting process.
“I am thrilled about watching Kiara have the opportunity to play basketball at my alma mater,” Williams said. “She will be an excellent fit for the program and she will be an asset to the college, community and her team.”
Williams recalls Jones-Doctor stepping up one day during summer workouts, exemplifying her leadership, which was heard during the entire season.
“She was vocal, worked hard and never settled for anything less than giving me and her team 100 percent,” Williams said. “I still remember the double overtime game at Heritage when she scored 27 points and had 16 rebounds. She is a special player and will do great playing in college.”
Lee said she especially likes Jones-Doctor’s defense and rebounding ability, which will be a plus for her Trojans team.
“When you watch her play, it is clear that she is a true competitor and team player,” Lee said. “She is a great addition to our team.”
“Kiara is also coming from a very solid high school program and we think she will fit into our system very well at Mount Olive,” Lee added.
Jones-Doctor has grown a lot since her freshman year at Wake Forest-Rolesville.
As a freshman, she was named the Most Improved Player and the following year was an honorable mention for the Cap 8 All-Conference team.
During her junior year, Jones-Doctor’s play earned her a spot on the Johnston County Holiday All-Tournament Team and she was the Offensive Player of the Year for the Cougars.
She said her senior game against Enloe was her most memorable one as a Cougar.
“That game determined whether or not we went to the playoffs,” Jones-Doctor said. “It was my best game because I left everything on the floor and all my teammates and I really wanted that win.”
Lee said Jones-Doctor is the type of player that makes everyone around her work harder. “I believe she is the kind of person and teammate that every player would love to have on their team,” she said.
“I look forward to coaching her and having her join our family at Mount Olive College,” Lee added.
Jones-Doctor said she is looking forward to the challenges of playing against stiffer competition at the collegiate level.
“The biggest adjustment will be the change of pace in the collegiate game and just playing with more experienced players.
“I will have to get used to that,” Jones-Doctor said.
The Trojans, which compete in the Conference Carolinas, finished last season with an 18-12 record. They lost in the conference tournament finals by five points in an overtime game to Pfeiffer.
Their season came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament when they were defeated by Clayton State.
Jones-Doctor, still undecided about a major, is the daughter of Elwood and Antoinette Jones.