Jaycie Christopher will fill a void on the UMaine women's basketball team.
In this March 5, 2022, file photo, Skowhegan Area High School's Jaycie Christopher celebrates after her team won the Maine Class A girls state championship basketball game at the Cross insurance Arena in Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Point guard is the most important position on the basketball court.

It’s like the pitcher in baseball or softball, the goalie in hockey or the quarterback in football. Nobody dictates the outcome of a game more than they do.

The point guard has the ball in their hands more than anyone else on the team. The game often hinges on their performance.

It is imperative that they make the right decisions with the basketball. And they must protect the ball.

When you look at the success of the University of Maine’s women’s basketball program over the years, there is a long list of top-notch point guards who have been instrumental in the program’s success — including its current head coach, Amy Vachon, who is the school’s and America East’s all-time career leader in assists with 759.

In recent years, America East Rookie of the Year and multi-time All-America East point guard Dor Saar helped UMaine win two league titles and earn back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament.

Alba Orois, in just her first year as a starter last season as Saar’s replacement, was a third team All-America East point guard and played a vital role in UMaine earning a WNIT berth.

Orois’ decision to return to her native Spain and seek a pro career has left a huge void at the point guard position for this coming season. But Skowhegan’s Jaycie Christopher, who has just been cleared to transfer to UMaine from Boston University after being released from her National Letter of Intent, could be just what the team needs.

Is it fair to put that kind of pressure on the incoming freshman from Skowhegan?

Probably not.

Are there other point guard options?


But Christopher checks all the boxes you need for a quality point guard.

It is just going to take her some time to adapt to the college game. It is significantly faster and more physical, and decisions have to be made much quicker.

But that’s where Christopher excels.

She has a very high basketball IQ and she sees the floor exceptionally well. She finds the open shooter or makes the right pass option.

She will provide UMaine fans with an interesting contrast to Saar and Orois.

Saar and Orois were in the 5-foot-6, 5-foot-7 range and relied on their quickness, anticipation and court awareness.

Christopher is 5-foot-11 and is much stronger physically, but also can get up and down the floor. She will be able to post up an opposing guard, drive the lane or hit the outside jumper, in addition to her ballhandling and playmaking skills.

Her long arms and athleticism will be extremely helpful on the defensive end of the floor as well as the offensive end.

She already has a Division I frame.

Remember, she was not only the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, she was also the first girl to be named Miss Maine Basketball and Softball. And she was a four-time all-conference golfer.

Christopher, the valedictorian of her class and the Maine Principals Associaton’s Student of the Year for 2022, will be one of the best athletes on the UMaine roster.

She is a basketball junkie who had to be chased out of the gym by Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc, who didn’t want her to overwork herself.

She constantly strives to get better. She is unselfish almost to a fault.

LeBlanc maintains she could have easily scored 10 to 15 points per game more than her career 20.3 points per game average but she wanted to integrate all of her teammates into the offense.

She was a true leader who was well-liked and respected by her teammates.

Christopher, Skowhegan’s all-time leading career scorer for boys and girls with 1,561 points, cares only about winning and being a valued teammate.

Vachon and her staff have always recruited players of high character, which results in a close-knit bond conducive to maximizing potential.

Vachon said she has several players capable of bringing the ball up the floor.

But she also knows she has a player who could be special.

Vachon is not one to heap praise on a player until they prove themselves but you can tell she has high expectations for Christopher.

She talked about Christopher being a perfect fit with her work ethic, academic prowess, love of the state and her high principles.

“She is very unselfish and very efficient,” Vachon said on Thursday. “She doesn’t take bad shots and she doesn’t make many mistakes.”

And it certainly won’t hurt Christopher to have one of the program’s best point guards to learn from.