Jaylea Hooten – Heber Springs (501 Basketball Team 2023)

Winless in Class 4-4A conference play last season, Heber Springs has impressed as one of the hottest teams in the 501 this season. Leading the Lady Panthers’ turnaround is senior guard/forward Jaylea Hooten. 

“This season, our team has set simple but effective goals for ourselves, which has driven us to become better players and has allowed us to take on the game from a winner’s perspective,” Hooten said. “During the offseason, we spent almost every weekend playing in tournaments or attending camps. We’ve done everything we can to improve. All we’re doing now is continuing the process.”

New to the Class 5-4A conference, Lady Panthers have “bought in” to changing Heber Springs’ basketball culture, with hopes of taking the program further than ever.

“Jaylea desperately wants to change the reputation of Heber Springs Lady Panther basketball,” Heber Springs head coach Spencer Gay said. “She has a tremendous motor and work ethic that is rarely seen among athletes of this generation and is one of the hardest-working players I’ve ever had.”

With goals of scoring 1,000 career points and earning All-State honors this season, Hooten hopes to leave an impact on her school for years to come.

“I want to be remembered as a good, hard-working player,” Hooten said. “Two lessons that really stick with me are learning to be a team player and loving your teammates. They’re like a philosophy to me. I use these in almost every situation I come across.”