NASHVILLE, TN — This past week, Fisk University guard Jayla Long, a senior from Birmingham, Alabama, was named the Association of Independent Institution Conference defensive player of the year. Long averaged 4.7 steals per game. She ended up second in the country in steals (149) and steals per game.

“It is a very satisfying and cheerful experience to receive this award,” said Long. “Words can’t express how much this means to me. This accomplishment is something that I will cherish throughout my life.”

The award is the first individual accomplishment for Fisk in women’s basketball since entering into the conference in 2014. Long was also named to the conference second team.

“Words can’t express how happy and proud I am of Jayla,” said Davis. “To be able to end her senior year with a defensive player of the year and second team all conference award is amazing . I am so blessed to be able to say that I was her coach while achieving all of these accomplishments.”

Long, known for her hard work and toughness, became a fan favorite because of her tenacious defense. In her final two games at Fisk, her energy helped to propel the team to their only winning streak, which helped to end the season on a high note. According to Davis, Long was a great ambassador that has helped her recruit the next up and coming stars at Fisk.

“Jayla worked hard all season and deserves everything that she’s received. She fought through injuries and continued to play as hard as she could for me. I would tell her to sit out of some practices and she wouldn’t want to. That kid has a heart of a lion. That helped make everyone on the team accountable,” added Davis.

Long also led her team in points per game (11.5) and assists (4.7). She scored a career high 31 points and 13 steals in her team’s 80-55 victory over Crawley’s Ridge (Ark.) University. While she will miss playing for Fisk, she is excited about the future.

“We have an exciting future,” said Long. “It was an honor and privilege to have played my last season for Coach Davis. She destined to turn things around here. She had no problem expressing that she believed in all of us. She’s the type of coach that you would do anything for. The future is bright and I will be their biggest fan.”

Fisk University women’s basketball head coach Janine Davis with senior Jayla Long