by Beau Wicker
Like all high school basketball players, the summer is an important time for Logansport star guard Whitney Jennings.
It was the summer of 2011 following her freshman year when Iowa coach Lisa Bluder was the first big-time coach to say that 5-foot-5 point guard was indeed a top prospect and offer her a full-ride scholarship. Later that year Jennings visited Iowa with some family members and came home from the trip with that special feeling that Iowa was the right place for her.
The next summer the college offers started coming in droves for Jennings. In fact, her soccer matches for the Berries last fall consisted of a virtual who’s who of college programs represented at the games.
Then, just before the basketball season began last year, Jennings decided to end the suspense early and announced that Iowa, annually one of the top women’s basketball programs in the Big Ten, was indeed the right fit for Whit.
Jennings led the Berries to a school record breaking 25-2 season last winter as a junior. For the second straight year the Berries swept the North Central Conference winning every game by double digits in that time span. In fact the Berries have won 14 NCC games in a row and 19 of their last 20 in a league that has long been known as one of the best basketball conferences in the state. The Berries won their first sectional title since 2007 last winter and were regional finalists in Class 4A, their best-ever finish since class sports were enacted.
Jennings has 1,778 points and 498 assists for her career and has a chance to join Skylar Diggins as the only players in state history to finish in the top 10 in career points and assists.
Jennings was a member of the Core Six team for the Indiana Junior All-Stars this summer. In four games against the Kentucky Juniors and the Indiana Seniors, she averaged 15.5 points, 3.0 assists and 2.5 steals for the Juniors, leading the team by a good margin in each category.
Jennings continued to shine throughout the summer playing in AAU, D-One camps and at the Top 100 Showcase last week, her final event of the summer as she plans to rest up a bit prior to the soccer season with practice beginning next week.
“It was a good summer of basketball,” Jennings said. “I was busy starting in June with the All-Star games and team camps for Logansport.”
Logan coach Jerry Hoover thinks Jennings showed she’s indeed the best player in the state this summer. Jennings is certainly one of the favorites for the highly coveted Miss Basketball Award.
“Obviously Miss Basketball is a title that any girl that loves basketball growing up always dreams about,” Jennings said. “You can’t put too much focus on it. I’m sure there will be a lot of talk about it. I’ll have to leave it to the coaches and sportswriters who are voting on it. All I can do is go play and what happens, happens.”
Looking ahead to this upcoming season, the Berries will lose three starters to graduation but do return two of their top three scorers in Jennings and junior-to-be Nakeya Penny.
“It’ll definitely be a different season from last year with different players,” Jennings said. “A lot of the girls have improved and they’ll need to improve moving forward and get better as the year goes along. We had a good summer and I’m looking forward to the season.”
Hoover expects to field another highly competitive team.
“I think we’re pretty good,” he said. “We played 39 games. We had people play that showed up and are getting better. We’re fine.
“Nakeya has gotten a lot better. She’s getting a lot better. She’s improved a lot. [Samantha] Kain has improved a lot. The three that really played well, those three would be the ones that come to mind.”