A third Bea will soon be playing Division I basketball for the University of Idaho.
Jaiden Bea, who will begin her senior year at Washougal High in the fall, announced her intention to join her two cousins, Beyonce Bea and Skylar Bea, on the as a member of the Vandals’ women’s basketball team after she graduates high school in 2022.
The youngest Bea to commit to the Vandals kept her teammates and coaches in suspense while mulling her decision.
“She’s not someone who follows (other people),” Jaiden Bea’s former Washougal teammate, McKenna Jackson, who graduated from Washougal High in June, said of Jaiden.
Jaiden said she chose the Division I school in Moscow, Idaho, partially because of her cousins, but also because she liked what the school had to offer.
“The fit into the program was the main (reason for my) decision,” Jaiden said. “Their style of play and culture and academics were things that I really liked. There are added benefits — my two cousins are there, which is a blessing, and great coaches.”
The University of Idaho, she added, will allow her to “prioritize the things that I find important in my life.”
Skylar Bea joined the Vandals’ women’s basketball team in 2021, following in the footsteps of her talented older sister, Beyonce Bea, who started playing for the Vandals in 2019, said she was “really excited” when she heard Jaiden had committed to the University of Idaho.
“I was hopeful that she’d pick Idaho,” Skylar said. “I thought it’d be great to have her there. She’s a great player, and obviously she’s my family. I thought it would be fun, but I also wanted her to choose the place that she thought fit her best.”
Jaiden picked Idaho over the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based United States Air Force Academy, which also offered her a scholarship. She said the fact that her cousins are at Idaho did not impact her decision as much as some might think, and that she had weighed the school’s academics and opportunities for personal growth along with what it would mean for her college basketball career. .
“I’m going in with my two-year degree, which I’m getting from Clark College, and it will actually count (at Idaho). That puts me ahead, so I can narrow my focus for my career sooner,” Jaiden, who is considering studying medicine or law, explained. “I also like the outside programs for my faith. They have great Christian programs, and some of the coaches even recommended those for athletes. That was really important for me, and something that the Air Force didn’t have to offer. (Idaho) will fit my lifestyle and let me challenge myself as an individual.”
Panthers girls basketball coach Britney Ervin said she thinks Jaiden will like the atmosphere at the University of Idaho.
“I think she felt really comfortable after meeting (her future coaches and teammates). And Moscow is a small town. It’s a college town, but it feels a lot like Washougal, I think,” Ervin said. “There’s a couple of different things in play there: It’s a small town, and her family vacations out there, so I think it checked all the boxes for her.”
‘I cannot wait to see what we accomplish’
Jaiden said she is definitely looking forward to reuniting with Beyonce, a two-time all-Big Sky Conference selection, and Skylar, Washougal High’s second-leading scorer and leading rebounder during the 2020-21 season, in Moscow.
“When I made my final decision, (I thought about) what was going to fit me best for my future, (but) having my cousins there is an additional benefit, and I’m really excited about it,” Jaiden said. “I think having Beyonce as a senior and Skylar as a sophomore and me as a freshman (during the 2022-23 season) is kind of a replay of when we won state (in 2019) and the success that we had through that. I know that if I want to play with them, I’m going to have to work hard, because nothing is going to be handed to me. But I cannot wait to see what we accomplish.”
Ervin predicts Jaiden will be an “impact player right away” on the Vandals’ team.
“She can play anywhere,” Ervin said. “Some players might get a little bit out of their groove if they’re not starting, but Jaiden can start or come off the bench, and either way she’s going to play her game. That’s something that she’s done since the beginning — she comes in with fire, she makes plays, she scores, gets steals, etcetera. She’s such a tough player to (go against) because she has so many skills.”
Jaiden blossomed during the Panthers’ 2020-21 basketball season, leading her team in scoring with 15.9 points per game. She also averaged 10.2 rebounds, 2.1 steals and one block per contest.
“Jaiden is a really good shooter — she hits a lot of 3s and she has a quick release, which I think will translate well to the college game,” Skylar said. “Also, she’s always been really aggressive on the court — getting lots of steals, bouncing around on defense, stuff like that.”
“Her step-back 3-pointer, no one’s going to block that,” Jackson, Jaiden’s former Panthers’ teammate, said. “I haven’t seen anyone touch her step-back 3-pointer because it’s impossible unless you have humongous arms. And she’s so strong. You don’t expect her to be that strong when she’s that skinny. You look at her and you’re like, ‘I can push her around,’ but you cannot push her around. She’s strong and she’s determined and she’s going to get to the hoop if it’s the last thing she does. She wants to score. She’s a scorer, and she’s not going to let anyone get in the way of that.”
Jackson said she has seen Jaiden develop as a leader during her time on the Panthers’ girls’ basketball team.
“Freshman year she came in very confident, probably a little too confident, and Beyonce had to humble her down a little bit,” Jackson said, laughing. “She has grown so much as a player and so much as a person in the last three years, and I’m so proud of her for that. She has definitely gotten humbler, but she knows her ability and holds herself up to such a high standard. … She is so driven that I know she will be successful in college.”