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An exceptional teammate: Chloe Long wins JSU's biggest honor — the Eagle Owl Award

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Jacksonville State's Chloe Long is guarded by Tennessee Tech's Anacia Wilkinson during the Tennessee Tech at JSU women OVC basketball game. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

Chloe Long scored only 4.7 points a game this past season for the Jacksonville State women's basketball team, but that hardly defines her value.

In her five years as a member of the Gamecocks, her teammates and coaches have come to know her as an exceptionally reliable and dependable person — on and off the court. Her school's athletics department showed Thursday it has the same opinion.

Long was named the 2019-20 female winner of the Eagle Owl Award, which is considered the biggest honor JSU can give one of its athletes. She is the first women's basketball player to win the award since Lisa Braswell in 2000.

"Chloe Long has made an outstanding impact on JSU women's basketball," said her coach, Rick Pietri. "She blossomed into an excellent defender in her career at JSU and she's also been a great teammate as well.

"Chloe made a number of contributions that don't show up in the stat sheet as she took a multitude of charges for us and was pivotal in helping us break presses with her ability as a post player to handle the ball. I am so happy that Chloe has received this recognition for the five years she provided to our program."

Typically, the Eagle Owl Award is given each year at the athletics department's senior banquet. Because of COVID-19, there is no banquet this year, and that's forced JSU to tell the winners remotely. The men's winner is JSU football player Josh Brady, and he was informed last week.

According to a JSU news release, the Eagle Owl Award was established in 1994. To be nominated, an athlete must meet these qualifications:

—Must be a starter or important reserve during his or her senior season.

—Carry a 2.5 cumulative GPA or higher.

—Must excel in his or her sport.

—Be a positive role model for others.

—Exemplify the well-rounded student-athlete.

Long is 6-foot-1 and played forward for JSU. She missed most of one season because of a torn ACL, which forced her to redshirt. She also missed time in high school because of a torn ACL in the other knee.

Even so, she played in 127 games for JSU, which is more than any other player since the school moved to Division I in 1995. She also finished with 700 rebounds, which ranks seventh in school history. That figure ranks fifth in JSU's Division I era.

She also had 700 rebounds, 609 points, 141 assists, 119 blocks and 93 steals. As a senior, she averaged 29 minutes a game, which ranks sixth in Pietri's seven seasons as JSU's head coach.

"I wasn't expecting anything at all," Long said in a video released by JSU. "I'm just glad I was able to be nominated for it."

She mentioned that among the highlights of her career were beating Belmont at home this past season, which was the first time in Long's five years that happened. Also, she helped JSU make the Ohio Valley Conference tournament three straight times, which is the second time in school history that has happened.

Also, she said "just being able to play with the team, a group of girls that's like my family" is another highlight.

Teammate Jesse Day said in an interview in February that Long is a team leader.

"She really brings that leadership on the court and off the court. She always has good energy, and I feed off that," Day said. "I know I can always count on her throughout the game."

In another February interview, teammate Taylor Hawks called Long a "great teammate."

"She lets everyone know what they're supposed to do, on the court and off the court," Hawks said. "She's always in the right defensive position. She saves most of us."

She added with a big smile: "Chloe is great."

For now, Long is working away at grad school. She said she has handled having to attend school online since campus was closed in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It hasn't been too bad," Long said in the video interview. "I like online classes, so it hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be."

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.