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Sugar and spice: the Lister sister story

Sugar and spice: the Lister sister story

Originally posted on www.insidevandy.com by Kevin Barnett

Just by looking at her height, you wouldn’t think her to be one of the best players in the Southeastern Conference. But at 5-foot-4, Jasmine Lister is just that, and she was just named to the All-SEC preseason team.

Don’t let her small stature deceive you; just look at her shoes. On her left shoe the senior point guard has written, “It’s not how big you are.” On her right, “It’s how big you play.” 

With quick feet, good ball-handling skills and an impressive IQ — she was her high school salutatorian — Lister capitalizes on her small frame. Another big part of her game is competitiveness, much of which can be attributed to growing up playing alongside her identical twin sister, Cinnamon. 

When they were just 7 years old, Jasmine and Cinnamon joined their older sister Kayla at Sac ShowBiz, the dance studio responsible for the Hip-Hop Crew that performs at Sacramento Monarchs and Sacramento Kings games. 

While at Monarchs games, Lister was mesmerized by guards Ticha Penicheiro and Kara Lawson. And with that, her basketball career was sparked.

“Ticha Penicheiro was so finesse and looked so under control,” Lister said. “The flashiness kind of got me because I was a kid, and she was just so good and composed all the time.”

Jasmine and Cinnamon started playing in their church league and different recreational leagues at the age of 8 before being discovered by an Amateur Athletic Union team. The two would play together all through AAU and high school, something Lister will always treasure.

“I think it helped because we challenge each other a lot,” Lister said. “We would play one-on-one and get used to each others’ moves, so eventually we’d have to learn new things.”

Both twins were undersized point guards and would trade off being the primary ball handler in games. Unfortunately, that ended up keeping them apart after high school.

Jasmine and Cinnamon planned on playing together in college, but no school offered them both scholarships. Having one small point guard is fine, but two together puts college teams at a size disadvantage. By the end of their junior year in high school, they had to make the tough decision to split up. 

After being ranked the 25th-best point guard in the Class of 2010 by ESPN, Jasmine ended up at Vanderbilt, and Cinnamon ended up at Boise State — although she transferred to Cal State Northridge before the 2012-13 season. Still, the two remain close. Their first year apart, the two talked to each other every day on Skype and did everything they could to keep in touch. 

Lister even has three tattoos for her sister: The number 11 and a heart on her right hand for the number both players wear in college, the word “dream” with three birds for each of her siblings on her right wrist, and the quote “Sisters by blood, twins by chance, friends by choice” on her right shoulder. 

Even without her sister by her side on the court, Lister has made a connection on Vanderbilt’s team with another undersized guard, Christina Foggie. Together, Lister and Foggie, who led the SEC in points two years ago before getting injured last year, have brought Vanderbilt at least 20 wins the past three seasons. 

“(Cinnamon and I) played so connected and always knew where each other was,” Lister said. “I miss that about playing with her, but I found that in Christina Foggie. We play so cohesively, and I don’t really miss that anymore.”


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