by Beau Wicker
For the Pharos-Tribune
Iowa is the right fit for Whit.
Logansport star point guard Whitney Jennings has decided to make her college choice early, as the junior verbally committed to play basketball at the University of Iowa earlier this week.
Iowa has been the favorite to land Jennings ever since she was offered during her first unofficial visit there the summer following her freshman year of high school.
“This school has been one of the first to offer me a scholarship and the first to recruit me. And in the first year and a half I’ve gotten to know them, the coaches, the team, and it’s really the best fit for me and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be,” Jennings said. “I didn’t see any point of carrying it out any longer if I knew.”
Jennings cited Iowa’s history of featuring small guards as a determining factor. While Jennings, at 5-foot-5, 125 pounds, is relatively small in stature, she’s got huge game.
Through the first two years of her high school career she has recorded 1,147 points and 287 assists, which are extremely rare numbers for a player so young in the basketball-crazed state of Indiana, especially considering she plays in the state’s largest class, 4A, at Logansport.
Jennings averaged 25.4 points and 7 assists per game as a sophomore in leading the Berries to a 20-4 record and their first-ever perfect season in the North Central Conference, long known as one of the best basketball conferences in the state.
Logan coach Jerry Hoover said Jennings has raised her game up another level during the offseason.
“She’s added another move. She’s got what we call a rollover dribble move,” Hoover said. “[Going to Iowa is] great for her and great for our program.”
Iowa is considered one of the top women’s basketball programs in the Big Ten Conference. The Hawkeyes have had 16 All-Americans and 11 players selected in the WNBA draft.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder is entering her 13th season at Iowa and 29th year overall and is the dean of Big Ten coaches. She has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year three times and has the second most wins in Iowa women’s basketball history, trailing only Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer.
Bluder and her staff have led Iowa to nine NCAA Tournament appearances in 12 seasons and have had six 20-win seasons. The Hawkeyes have reached the NCAA Tournament in each of the last five seasons.
Last season Iowa won its final eight games of the regular season to finish in second place in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes were an at-large selection for the NCAA Tournament and finished with 19 wins, including 11 in Big Ten play.
Jennings chose Iowa over offers from Purdue, IU, Ball State, Indiana State, Butler, Texas Tech and Wake Forest. Many other schools also showed interest.
“I feel really fortunate to have been recruited by a lot of great schools, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of great people through the recruiting process. There were a lot of great Indiana schools looking at me, but ultimately Iowa was my No. 1 choice,” Jennings said.
Jennings added she was relieved to make her decision before this upcoming basketball season, which could be a special one for the Berries, who have four starters and six of their top eight players returning.
“I just feel like all the pressure’s off now and I can just go and play basketball,” she said.