Jazz is a musical art form built on improvisation.

Maybe it should be obvious, then, why East Nashville girls basketball standout Jaslynn “Jazz” Walter often goes by her nickname.

The 5-foot-10 sophomore’s creative passing ability sometimes catches her own teammates off guard.

“It starts with trusting them,” Walter said. “My old AAU teammates couldn’t catch my passes because they were too fast.”

Walter impressed with a game-high 24 points in East Nashville’s convincing 64-26 victory over rival Pearl-Cohn on Wednesday, but it was her dynamic passing that shed light on why East Nashville coach Kyle Upton thinks the youngster has such a bright future.

Walter finished with four assists, a number that would have been higher if not for several missed layups and fumbled catches.

No-look passes and wraparound dishes are the norm when Walter’s on the floor.

“I sometimes tell her, less is more,” Upton said, “because she has the physique, the athletic ability, the scoring ability, if she simplifies her game, she’s going to be one of the best kids to come through the city.”

Upton, a Metro basketball coach for more than a decade now, isn’t just saying that. He’s seen a lot of Nashville players, starting when he was the starting point guard for Antioch’s last state tournament team (2008).

East Nashville (12-1, 2-0 District 8-2A) has its sights set on making the state tournament for the first time since 2016.

Walter figures to be critical toward that goal. She’s averaging 11.5 points and four rebounds. Her season-high in a game is 28 points.

Her court awareness creates scoring opportunities for others, like Emani Wofford (10 ppg) and Ayanna Kinnard (8.7 ppg).

Wednesday, Walter wrapped a pass around a defender for an easy bucket by Wofford, as the Eagles built a 15-2 lead that ballooned to 26-5 in the second quarter.

Later in the third, after surveying the court to find no cutting teammates or open shooters, Walter calmly swished a 3-pointer herself.

“She’s really positionless,” Upton said. “She’s tall enough, big enough and strong enough to guard the post or a guard. It helps us stretch the floor. Her athletic ability changes our whole offensive dynamic.

“Last year she kind of struggled on the defensive end, so we pushed her this summer and she bought into what we were doing. The switch has turned for her.”

As for her ability to find open teammates, Upton doesn’t take credit for that.

“It’s truly natural,” he said. “She came to us like that, we just polished it up.”


Pearl-Cohn (26): Erianna Thomas 15, Christiana Groves 9, Destiny Poole 2

East Nashville (64): Jaslynn Walter 24, Emoni Wofford 10, Kenya Fairs 10, Ayanna Kinnard 7, Jayla Horton 4, Cleo Johnson 2, Sanreia Harvell 1, Paige Wallace 3, Asia Comer 1.

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