NFL Draft talk dominated the Bold City’s sports landscape for most of the spring with the Jacksonville Jaguars holding the much anticipated first overall pick.
On April 11, that all changed as University of North Florida senior forward Jazz Bond swooped in to take over the headlines on the First Coast. Bond became the first player in the university’s history to be selected in the WNBA Draft when she was picked in the third round, 31st overall, by the Dallas Wings.
Bond is no stranger to being first. After transferring from the University of South Florida, the redshirt senior capped her illustrious four-year career as an Osprey as the career leader in blocks. She also leads the program in points, rebounds and free throws made since the Ospreys became a Division I program in 2009.
In an interview the day after the draft, Bond had this to say to UNF assistant athletic director and host of UNF’s Talon Talk podcast Brock Borgeson on being selected: “It’s just a lot of emotions … excitement, a little bit of nervousness. I’m just grateful for this opportunity.”
Bond wasn’t the only selection from the Atlantic Sun Conference. Florida Gulf Coast University’s Kierstan Bell was selected 11th overall by the Las Vegas Aces. Bond’s and Bell’s perseverance paid off in an ever-changing collegiate athletic environment, proving once again that professional level talent can be honed at mid-major universities.
Bond echoed this sentiment. “It didn’t matter what school I was at. At the end of the day, I was dedicated to working hard every day in practice and being successful on the floor,” she told Borgeson, “This goes for anybody, it doesn’t matter which school, whether it be a Power Five or a mid-major as long as you work hard and you’re dedicated to the game you can be successful in whatever you do, as long as you work hard.”
Borgeson also asked Bond about the moment she realized she was being drafted.
“During the whole draft my heart was pumping, pumping away … When my name was called, I was overwhelmed with joy!” Bond exclaimed in the interview.
The road for the 6 foot 4 inch versatile forward wasn’t always as easy as becoming arguably the best player in UNF history.
Bond and her teammates dominated the high school game in Murfreesboro, Tennessee at Blackman High School. Bond led Blackman to two Tennessee AAA State Championships. After garnering attention nationally, Bond was nominated as a McDonald’s All-American.
Her journey hit a speed bump after her commitment to the University of South Florida in Tampa. As a freshman, Bond appeared in 22 games for the 24-win Bulls on their way to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament during the 2016-2017 season. As a freshman, Bond averaged seven minutes a game, tallying 142 minutes total.
Ironically, USF opened the season in the USF Sun Dome with a drubbing of the Ospreys, winning 78-42. Bond scored 3 points for the Bulls in the contest.
Something had to change, and quickly, if Bond wanted to realize her dreams.
“When I transferred to North Florida it was me trying to find my love for the game again,” Bond told Borgeson. “That was a turning point for me.”
The rest is history, and it’s come full circle.
Jazz Bond was born for this. At least, that’s the way it seemed early on. She started playing basketball at 3 years old and began AAU play at the age of 8 per her interview on Talon Talk.
College basketball was on the horizon from an early age for Bond and was quite literally in her blood. Bond’s father, Albert Bond Jr., played for the Tennessee State University Tigers basketball team during their only two appearances in the NCAA Tournament in 1993 and 1994.
Next stop: Dallas.
When Bond joins the Wings for training camp, she will be among some WNBA greats. The list includes 2021 WNBA All-Star MVP Arike Ogunbowale and USA Olympic gold medalist Allisha Gray. The Wings open their regular season May 7.
Bond graduated from the University of North Florida with her bachelor’s degree in Public Health. She is pursuing her master’s in public health.