The decorated high school basketball career of Plano Senior senior Jordyn Merritt is over.
The Lady Wildcats’ captain suffered a torn ACL during the team’s appearance at the Ranchview Classic in Carrollton on Nov. 23, which will sideline the five-star prospect, committed to Florida, for the remainder of her senior season.
“When I heard that, I was just like, ‘Wow,’” Merritt said. “I don’t think I fully processed that my senior year was over. I just couldn’t believe it and I still can’t. All the support I’ve got from family and friends has made it feel more real. My parents were obviously upset, but they’re fully behind me and we’re just trying to find the best surgeon out there so I can make a full recovery and come back better than I was before.”
Merritt said she suffered the injury while attempting to maneuver around a defender during a fast-break layup in the tournament semifinals against John Paul II.
“I was going up for a layup and noticed there was a shorter defender coming toward me. I was just going to do a euro step and finish with my right hand,” Merritt said. “As soon as I went to plant my right foot, I put all my weight on it and felt a pop.”
Despite the initial fear, Merritt said her concerns were temporarily put an ease after trainers deemed that the injury wasn’t ACL-related. A trip to the emergency room and an orthopedic clinic offered a similar consolation, but it wasn’t until after an MRI that she received the news Tuesday that she had indeed torn the ligament.
Merritt noted that recovery from an ACL tear is six to eight months, but that it could fluctuate depending on surgery and how she approaches physical therapy.
“I have never would have pictured my senior season being cut so short, so it’s going to take a positive mindset,” Merritt said.
Merritt has started on varsity all four years of her high school career, blossoming into one of the top players in the country along the way. Earning big minutes as early as her freshman year, Merritt was named the District 6-6A Newcomer of the Year during her inaugural year of high school hoops. As a sophomore, she took the reins as the Lady Wildcats’ primary scorer over the back half of the regular season and helped lead Plano to its first-ever Class 6A state championship in 2018.
Named an all-state tournament selection for her efforts, Merritt then strung together a junior campaign where she netted 9-6A Defensive Player of the Year — an honor that she repeated on Star Local Media’s all-area team — after posting season-long averages of 18.0 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per game as the centerpiece of Plano’s aggressive defense. During the team’s playoff run, which lasted until the regional quarterfinals, Merritt eclipsed 1,500 points scored for her career.
This season, Merritt helped pilot the Lady Wildcats to a 6-0 record and the No. 9 ranking in Class 6A by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. Plano will have to find a way to stay afloat without its top player, with the likes of senior Maggie Robbins and juniors Amaya Brannon and Mikayla Eddins among those projected to pick up the slack in Merritt’s absence. And although she won’t be able to help the Lady Wildcats on the court, Merritt said she’ll look to impact her team in a different capacity.
“Even if I can’t play, there’s still a lot I can do for my team,” Merritt said, “whether it’s making sure they’re ready before games or giving it their all in practice. I’ll still be on the sidelines cheering them all the way.”
She’ll also have the backing of Florida, where Merritt will head next year to begin her college career. One of the country’s most sought-after prospects, Merritt verbally committed to play for the Lady Gators in September before officially signing with the program earlier this month on Nov. 13.
“It was just really assuring to hear that they’re still there for me and that, regardless of what happens, they support me 110%,” Merritt said. “When I woke up the next morning, there were text messages from lots of girls on the team, including one that just had ACL surgery. It was just really comforting to know that I’ll still have a spot at Florida.”