(KMAland) -- As the month of August rolls along, so does this year’s KMA Sports Hall of Fame class. Today, we go back to the late 1980s when one of the greatest basketball players in KMAland history was completely dominating the area.
Tri-Center’s Karen Jennings would win the 1993 Wade Trophy and break the all-time scoring record at Nebraska. But before she did, she was a two-time All-State selection and four-time state qualifier for the Trojans.
“We spent hours upon hours in the summer playing basketball, knowing what we wanted to achieve on the court,” Jennings told KMA Sports.
Jennings says her relationship with her head coach T. Gary White helped to cultivate her abilities into the dominance she then displayed on the court.
“I would play against his sons, who both played college basketball,” Jennings said. “We worked really hard to get better every time we hit the court.”
Jennings took first-team All-State honors in both 1988 and 1989 in her junior and senior seasons, averaging 55.5 points per game as a junior before dropping 59 per game as a senior. She would finish as one of the highest-scoring players in KMAland history, accumulating 3,903 points during her career.
“It started at home and at school for me,” Jennings said. “If I called (Coach White) to get in the gym, he would be there. I was really lucky to be in a very positive, uplifting environment that encouraged us to get better.”
Jennings’ family life was also a big part of her success. Her father played college basketball at Peru State and her brother frequently joined her in her workouts.
“(My dad) made sure that we had good fundamentals,” Jennings said. “I started playing when I was 10, and I just kept moving forward. When I tell people that I played two hours per day, I really did play two hours per day. And sometimes it was three or four hours per day.
“I had routines and then I had one-on-ones with my brother (Bill). God really blessed me with a lot of physical ability and my height. Being 6-foot-2 was great, but there are a lot of 6-2 girls running around that don’t play basketball. Fundamentals really got me and helped me.”
Jennings led Tri-Center to state tournaments in all four years of high school while playing 6-on-6 basketball. The adjustment period to 5-on-5 at Nebraska didn’t turn out to be a big one. She was the Big Eight Conference Newcomer of the Year in 1990, made First-Team All-Big Eight in 1991, 1992 and 1993 and went on to claim First-Team All-American honors and the Wade Trophy for the country’s most outstanding player in her senior season.
“I would go to Omaha and play summer leagues for the Benson Bunnies and on several select teams in Nebraska,” Jennings said. “I was always playing 5-on-5 in the summers and going to camps. (Bruce Rasmussen) at Creighton let me come play against college girls in the summer. I played a lot of 5-on-5.”
Along with her outstanding success on the court, Jennings was a standout in academics, too. She was a CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-American in her final three years of college and is a CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Famer. For today’s purposes, though, she’s finally a KMA Sports Hall of Famer.
Listen to the full interview with Jennings linked below.
2020 KMA SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS