Amanda Butler big on Bonds
Published: Monday, November 28, 2011 at 11:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 28, 2011 at 11:40 p.m.
If you want to see Florida women's basketball coach Amanda Butler smile, just ask her about sophomore point guard and former P.K. Yonge standout Jaterra Bonds.
“You know, I could talk all day about Jaterra,” said Butler. “I really love coaching her. She really has the spirit, the competitive nature and toughness and presence about her that, as a coach, you'd better go and find in recruiting because I don't think it's something that we can put in them. But as a coach, she's the type of player you love coaching, and you love going into battle with her.”
What makes this all the more interesting is those same attributes were trademarks Butler displayed as a player when she was UF's point guard from 1990-94. She started 99 of 114 games in her four-year Gator career for former head coach Carol Ross and led Florida to the program's first two NCAA Tournament berths in 1993 and 1994.
“It is awesome to play for coach Butler,” Bonds said. “One of the things that brought me here to Florida was that her attitude and the way she acted kind of matched mine. She's always in it, fired up and intense, and she hates to lose as much as I do.”
As a prep senior in 2010, Bonds averaged 16.6 points, four assists and five rebounds a game in leading the Blue Wave to a 30-2 record and the Class 2A state championship.
She signed with UF and earned SEC All-Freshman honors last season, averaging 9.9 points, the second-highest mark on the team. In addition, she had a team-high 15 games scoring in double figures, set a UF freshman record for games played (34), ranked second for three-pointers made by a freshman (53) and twice tied the UF freshman record for three-pointers in a game (five).
She also held her own in the classroom, earning selection to the SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll.
“She's a hard worker and a hard-nosed competitor,” Butler said. “She wants to win, and she is very excited to be able to do that as a Gainesville native. All of the local interest she's developed, she's very deserving of. She definitely earned her selection to the SEC All-Freshman team, and I think that just made her hungrier for more.”
Bonds noted she developed her game by never backing down from any competition.
“My Dad coached city league basketball here in Gainesville, so I used to come with him to all of his practices,” Bonds said. “One day, one of the players didn't show up, so they needed an extra man. I had never really played against girls much anyway. I was used to playing co-ed with the boys, and at that time there weren't really that many girls playing. So I told him if he needed an extra player to put me in, and here I am now.
“I've been going against boys since I was little, and that really helped me be more aggressive. When you're a girl, they think that you can't play with them and they underestimate you or whatever. They tried to push me around and stuff, but I gave them a little something-something every now and then.”
Bonds came into this season expecting a lot of improvement not just from herself, but her team as well. Through the first four games, she was averaging 10.3 points a game while playing an average of 30 minutes per contest, second only to senior Jordan Jones (34.8).
The Gators, meanwhile, got off to a 5-1 start. Three of their wins were against teams that reached the 2010 NCAA Tournament, highlighted by an impressive 72-58 upset of No. 21 Florida State.
“Yeah, I think this is going to be a much better and special year,” Bonds said. “You know, I was ready to get back on the court as soon as we lost that last game (to Charlotte in the WNIT quarterfinals) last year.
“I really hate to lose. When that happens, I really get fired up.”
Her coach wouldn't have it any other way.
“She's definitely the type of competitor that I think, especially at the point guard position, you have to have if you're going to have a team that does some special things,” Butler said.