RIPLEY • Dayzsha Rogan always saw herself as a Division 1 basketball player.
After leading Ripley to a Class 4A state runner-up finish in 2017 as a senior, the 5-foot-4 guard found the Division 1 offers hard to come by. But after two outstanding seasons at Northeast Mississippi Community College, Rogan got her chance to make an impact at the highest level and did not disappoint.
Rogan helped guide Jackson State to a 19-10 overall record, including a 16-2 record in Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) play. The Lady Tigers started SWAC play with a perfect 12-0 record against their conference opponents. Rogan's play was a huge part of their success. The junior played in all 29 games, averaging 13.3 points per game on 40.7 percent shooting from the field. Rogan added 101 rebounds, 31 assists and a team-high 70 steals in her first season on the Division 1 level.
“It was lots of fun," Rogan claimed on her season. "We started 12-0 in the SWAC and made it to the conference finals before the coronavirus shut it down. I felt like I had a good year personally but as a team, I felt like a really good season.”
Like any level, the transition to playing better competition on a nightly basis is a hard one to make. Jackson State competed against the likes of Miami (FL), Indiana, and the home state Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs. The learning curve was steep for Rogan, but she found a way to get through it to piece together her wonderful season.
"It was difficult," said Rogan. "In the summer I struggled with all the practices, learning the plays and all the work we were doing in the weight room. But I knew I had to have a tough mentality and push myself so that I could have the opportunity to play. It's definitely a big jump but I love the challenge of having to step up my game."
Like many collegiate athletes, Rogan was shocked to find out her season was being cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Lady Tigers reached the SWAC Tournament finals against Alabama A&M, the team that had just beat them in the regular season finale just a week prior. As the Lady Tigers drove over to Birmingham, Alabama, they received the news that their championship bid was over.
“We were on the bus and we made it into Birmingham. We were on there watching TV and seeing all the conference tournaments getting shut down," described Rogan. "Next thing you know, our coach got a call and told us. They turned the bus around and we went home. It was such a bummer. I never expected it to end like that.”
“I was so sad about it. We were so excited to go play. We had just lost to them and we were ready for the opportunity to get our revenge. It's really sad for the seniors on our team. We were so close to getting a ring. We had been working hard all season long to get the chance to play in the championship game."
Rogan and her team never got a chance to hoist up the SWAC championship trophy. All they will be left with is the postseason honors that came their way. Rogan was named to the All-SWAC Second Team on March 12 following the cancellation of the season.
“It was a big deal to me," stated Rogan. "Honestly, I didn't expect to get it. I was very proud of myself. I knew I worked hard before the season started and during the season I kept trying to be the best that I could be. Being listed on the second team for our conference is a big honor.”
One teammate that did not receive any postseason honors was former Ashland standout J'Niya Tallie, but that does not change Rogan's opinion of how good she thinks her point guard is. Both players are juniors that stand at 5-foot-4 and have similar games. Tallie signed with Jackson State straight out of high school in 2017 after leading the Lady Blue Devils to a Class 1A quarterfinals appearance.
Growing up going to two different high schools just 15 miles apart the two players battled each other on the high school scene but Rogan loves being able to just be Tallie's teammate now.
“It was very nice to share the floor with her," Rogan claimed. "Before I signed with Jackson State, I asked her how it was down there and she helped me with my decision. She is a very good point guard. She would always tell me just to get open and she would find me. We have a good connection on the floor.”
Working hard has never been an issue for Rogan throughout her career. With limitations with her size, Rogan has always had to put in more work to get where she wanted to be.
Her work ethic landed her the All-Swac Second Team honor in her junior season and her team was considered to be the best among the rest of the conference. But the Lady Tigers graduated four seniors off of this year's team, meaning the roles could change heading into her senior season. That is something Rogan wants to be prepared for as she attempts to reach some lofty goals.
“I actually want to work on my ball-handling more," said Rogan on what she is working on in the offseason. "I didn't handle it much this season because I played more shooting guard. I had a couple of turnovers this year that I want to cut down on so that'll be important for me to get better at. Of course I want to get better at shooting, especially from three-point range. If I can get that to go along with driving to the basket and being better at finishing with contact, it'll just make me a better player all around.
"I want to be the Player of the Year next season in the SWAC. I want to average double figures again. I'm going to continue to put in the work in the offseason to get better and reach that goal."