CUMMING, Ga. — Slightly shy Jenna Staiti isn’t a typical high school freshman.
The 6-foot-5-inch 14-year-old is a regional and state champion swimmer in backstroke.
The former nationally ranked swimmer is also the Forsyth County backstroke record holder for three years running.
Staiti has already received two full-ride scholarships to Georgia Southern University and University of Dayton for basketball.
And it’s not just because of her height.
Staiti has been swimming for years, but started playing basketball two years ago.
She played center for Vickery Creek Middle School and privately for the Atlanta Cagers, but has yet to play an official season at West.
“Jenna is motivated to learn,” said coach Rodney Storms. “She works hard to improve her game and her skills, and it’s obvious in her abilities.”
Staiti is slated to be one of the top basketball recruits in the country for the 2016 recruiting year.
She is ranked 75th in national recruiting polls and holds a spot in the top 10 recruits for a basketball center.
Staiti comes by her athletic skills naturally. Her father played college basketball and her mother, college volleyball.
“I tried to get her to play volleyball,” said her mother, Sandi Staiti, “but she wanted nothing to do with it. She wanted to do something she could own, and she owns basketball.”
Staiti was an all-county player for Vickery Creek Middle in both 2011 and 2012.
“She’s a team player and a strong leader,” said Storms. “People who don’t know her might think she’s shy, but when she’s on the court, doing what she does, nothing gets in her way.”
Staiti has played in several elite invitation-only camps at colleges across the country, and toured the colleges as a potential future player.
“NCAA rules don’t allow the scouts or coaches to talk to us outside of their campuses,” her mother said. “But when she receives an invite to an elite camp, they can.”
Staiti’s mother said the 14-year-old takes it all in stride.
“We tour the campuses and see the standard dorms, and then we see the dorms for the female athletes and there is clearly a difference, but Jenna doesn’t seem all that excited,” she said. “She’s more about the game right now, not the future.”
Coach Storms agrees, and sees a shift in Jenna’s passion.
“Swimming certainly isn’t out, but Jenna is definitely more excited about basketball,” he said.
Staiti is currently working toward playing basketball and swimming for West this year. “The coaches are doing their best to find a way to work together,” her mother said.
In the meantime, Staiti continues to devote time to each sport, but makes time to also be a 14-year-old girl.
“She is definitely a teenager,” her mother said, “but she’s humble and is a regular kid in every way.”