Hattiesburg’s Melyia Grayson is one of a handful of players that can equally be just as effective on both offense and defense.
What made Grayson’s season special was returning from an injury, and leading her team to a district championship and the third round of the 5A playoffs. Grayson’s comeback mentality and effectiveness on offense and defense helped her earn the honor of the PineBeltSPORTS Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the 2019-2020 season.
On the year, Grayson averaged 14.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
“With Meylia, she has always grown each year,” Hattiesburg coach Caronica Jackson said. “She did have a setback with an injury and getting that straightened out. I always knew she had the drive to help her finish strong.”
Grayson missed the first seven games of the season due to hip surgery. For Grayson, who’s game is focused on being physical inside the paint, it was a hard adjustment to make.
“At first, when I came back, I was a little scared because I just came out of my surgery,” Grayson said. “I was scared to play on it at first, and I had to build back my confidence up. I just had to have that mindset of building back up and being what I used to have and getting better at the same time.”
After her debut game against Oak Grove, according to Grayson, her confidence quickly returned. In the next game against Jeff Davis County, Grayson recorded 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. For Grayson, it was her natural competitiveness that helped her regain confidence.
“I would describe myself as someone that is not going to give up on anything,” Grayson said. “I’m going to keep fighting for what I want.
“After my first game at Oak Grove, I was a little nervous at first, but then I started to get that feeling back that I can do this. Then nobody stopped me.”
In the last six games of the season and in the playoffs, Grayson recorded six consecutive double-doubles, one of which she recorded a season-high of 32 points and 21 rebounds.
“I knew that my teammates and my coaches were going to be counting on me to be able to get that offensive game going,” Grayson said. “I had to step up and be ready to play.”
In 23 games, Grayson totaled 11 double-doubles, which according to MaxPreps, was ranked as 12th most in the state and the fourth most in class 5A.
Grayson credits her teammates and Jackson for her success on the court. According to Grayson, knowing that her teammates look up to her has helped to hold herself accountable on the court.
“They all believe in me a lot,” Grayson said. “That helps a lot. It helps me pick up my pace, and I know that I have others that are looking up to me.”
Looking ahead, Grayson, who is signed with Southern Miss, is both excited and ready to take on the next level. According to Jackson, Grayson will become an impact player on the college level.
“I feel very confident that her game will transfer over to the next level because she does have the ability to shoot the ball from the outside and her ability to block shots,” Jackson said. “As quiet as Melyia is, she’s very competitive. She’s not that kid that’s going to make a lot of noise. She hates to lose and is going to go out and play hard. She is very humble, that’s what makes her special. She’s competitive, quiet and humble.”
Coach of the Year: Matt O'Keefe, Sacred Heart
Player of the Year: Melyia Grayson
Mackenzie Thomas, jr., Petal; Jameya Johnson, sr., Lumberton; Gracie Falla, so., Sacred Heart; Makia Willis; Tariana Greenwood, jr., Sumrall
Allie Vann, sr., PCS; Kirsten Joseph, so., Lumberton; Sequoia Bouldin, jr., North Forrest; Elise Jackson, so., Purvis; Lilli Robertson, jr., Sumrall
Keona Crowell, sr., FCAHS; Mallory Gilbertson, so., Sacred Heart; Chaise Stinson, jr., Hattiesburg; Jennifer Holder, sr., Lumberton; Karson Suire, sr., Purvis
Mohagandy Mementally, jr., North Forrest; Jada Tatum, sr., Oak Grove; Kate Gallardo, jr., Sacred Heart; Tianna Edwards, 8th, Lumberton; Chelsea Ulmer, fr., Hattiesburg