Alma standout inks letter of intent to join John Brown University.

Sierra Bailey signed a national letter of intent to attend and play basketball for John Brown University during a small ceremony held at the Charles B. Dyer Arena on Friday afternoon.

“Someone asked me the other day, did you know if she was going to be this kind of player… I never doubted it. She just had to figure it out,” Alma coach Codey Mann said. “She’s just coming into her potential and she has so much upside that she’s just starting to tap into, she’s just going to get better and better.”


Bailey spent extra time working on her skills during the off-season after regular practices. Mann said her confidence continued to grow. Eventually, Bailey decided that she wanted a spot on the starting rotation at the high school and knew she had to prove herself.

Bailey’s surgence didn’t go unnoticed by the other coaches in the 5A West when Mann attended a meeting to discuss all-state and all-conference players.

“Every single one went on and on about her,” Mann said. “How much she matured and what she brought to the team.”

Mann added that the other coaches were bewildered with what to do with Bailey. Put a big player on her… Bailey would go around them. Try to put a speedy guard on Bailey… she would just post up and shoot over them.

“She did that. She put in a lot of time and she’s only going to get better,” said Mann.

For JBU coach Jeff Soderquist it was about the tangibles and the intangibles, namely about finding players who are happy.

“In my 21 years as a coach it’s about finding the things beyond basketball… about how a player conducts herself,” Soderquist said. “We do a lot of work in recruiting a player… the things that go beyond basketball and the one thing that I’ve learned over the years is that I can’t teach or coach a person to be happy. She is all those things and just a happy person, and we’re happy to have her.”

Soderquist noted that it was one thing he learned from his father, Don Soderquist, former COO and vice president with Walmart: “We can teach people how to do anything to do their job here, but we can’t teach them to be happy. Hire happy people.”

“I’m happy to have it over with and I can enjoy my senior year and not have to worry about college and all those decisions,” said Bailey.

Bailey went on a visit to the campus a few months ago and took note of the Christian atmosphere.

“The people I met were great and I’m excited to be part of the basketball program,” Bailey said.

“I will have to prove myself and I will be a guard, we’ll see how it goes from there,” said Bailey. “Now… I’m gonna be focusing on school, work on my basketball skills and getting ready for the season. Hopefully, have a great basketball season and on to JBU.”