Jade Nutley is a dominate player on the floor, a force on both the offensive and defensive ends that makes her presence felt in every game she plays.
But it was not Nutley’s talent that made her one of the most highly-decorated players in Madison Consolidated High School history nor drew the eye of college coaches at all levels. Instead, it was Nutley’s drive, her heart, her leadership and intelligence that made her stand out.
“Jade is type of player that every coach probably only gets once in their coaching career. Two if they’re lucky,” Madison coach Sonja Bowyer said. “I’ve been lucky to be able to watch all four of her years and be a part of it. It’s a blessing because of everything she does. It’s not just the scoring and it’s not just the rebounding, it is the leadership that you have to have in order to be a successful team.”
Nutley was the easy choice as Madison Courier Girls Basketball Player of the Year for a second-straight year, not because there weren’t other outstanding candidates but because the 6-foot-1 Nutley was just that good. She is the first player since the Courier started these awards in 2011 to be a First Team selection all four years of high school and she joins former Cub Olivia Crozier as the only players to be honored with the top award twice.
Nutley is used to such honors. Although she was not selected for the Indiana All-Star Team — just the latest in a long line of deserving players from the area to be denied that honor over the past 20 years — she has won nearly everything else. She was an all-Hoosier Hills Conference selection for the fourth-straight year, an Associated Press All-State Honorable Mention selection, the Prep Girls Hoops Class 3A Indiana Player of the Year, a Southern Indiana Hoops Super 7 selection, and an ESPN Top 100 recruit nationally. She was even a First Team Academic All-State selection by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association.
Nutley takes these awards in stride. She knows that they have only come her way because of hard work and the dedication that she has given to the sport she loves.
“It’s easy to get down and I’m hard on myself a lot because I feel like I have a lot of weight on my shoulders,” Nutley said. “But I felt like I pushed through and stayed level-headed for the most part. I’m a super competitive person and I want to win everything and I felt like I did what I had to do to get to end result.”
Nutley leaves Madison as one of the best players in school history. Her 1,401 career points are third to only Brittany Myers (1,551) and Molly Holt (1,480) and her 932 rebounds passed Crozier for the most in school history. She averaged 18.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game this past season while also dishing out 2.8 assists.
Nutley noted that she achieved nearly every goal she set for herself as an incoming freshman and is proud of the career she has had. While the Lady Cubs failed to win a sectional title in her four years — most likely a product of playing in sectionals that produced one state champion and two state runners-up in three of her four years — the program posted three-straight non-losing seasons for the first time in six years.
“I think it was more dreams than goals. When I came into high school, it wasn’t like I was working on this or that. But when senior year came around, it was like ‘Oh, these goals are in reach,’ ” Nutley said. “When I realized those goals were in reach, I set them for myself and I achieved them.”
While Nutley dearly loved her four years at Madison, she’s ready for the next chapter. She has signed to play at Indiana Wesleyan next season and will join a Wildcat program that reached the NAIA Final Four this past season. She can’t wait to see what the future holds.
“We have a good class coming in and one of their best players is a senior but other than that, we’re going to be a huge threat to everyone,” Nutley said. “I think we can go forward and I’m hoping to win a ring or two.”
Bowyer knows the legacy Nutley leaves at Madison.
“Just walk into the gym and you see her name on the board,” Bowyer said. “She has broken so many records but not only that, she’s doing it in the classroom as well. It’s big shoes to fill and a big legacy because she does it on and off the floor.”