Consistent Jelniker Garners Starting Position
Nov. 1, 2010
Many basketball players can only hope for an opportunity to play at a place as tradition rich as Kansas, and the idea of starting as a freshman is just completely far-fetched. For first-year Kansas forward Brooke Jelniker, those dreams are quickly becoming reality.
Jelniker arrived in Lawrence in June, fresh off a stellar career at Thunder Ridge High School in Highlands Ranch, Colo. She quickly got acclimated to college life and the life of a student-athlete, thanks in large part to her caring teammates and KU coaches.
“All the players have been awesome with me and really accepting,” said Jelniker, the daughter of Mitch of Kelly Jelniker. “All of them have been helpful in any way that they can on and off the court in helping me feel comfortable. The coaches have been great and they always have an open door policy if you need to go talk to them, they are always there. It has just been like a really big family environment so it has been a nice transition for me.”
According to her coaches and teammates, Jelniker has gone above and beyond their early expectations. Jayhawk head coach Bonnie Henrickson has been especially pleased with Jelniker’s ability to be a consistent performer this early in her college career.
“Brooke has probably been the most consistent of the freshmen from the two months they spent here in the summer, and then in practice so far,” said Henrickson, who is entering her seventh season at the helm of the Kansas program. “She isn’t out there trying to do anything spectacular, but she has done a great job of keeping her mental mistakes at a minimum.”
Jelniker’s position coach Katie O’Connor echoed Henrickson’s assessment.
“Brooke has been really coachable and has picked things up pretty quickly,” said O’Connor, who is in her seventh season at KU. “But more than anything, she has been consistent which is something most freshmen struggle with.”
Jelniker’s ability to be consistent in practice is one reason she found herself in the starting line-up in the Jayhawks’ exhibition opener versus Fort Hays State, but another important factor for her being in the line-up is her ability to knock down the three-point shot.
“Brooke brings us the much needed ability to knock down a three and space the defense,” said Henrickson. “She has shot the ball really well. She spent a lot of time this summer and in the fall working on just changing her shot just a little bit. She has seen the benefits of that which means we will see the benefit of that.”
Although Jelniker was unable to find her way in the scoring column versus Fort Hays State, she did dish out an assist and pull down one rebound in 13 foul-plagued minutes. The 6-foot-1 guard is confident of the good things that are to come in her future with Kansas.
“For me, I need to be confident in the things I know I can do and build from there,” said Jelniker. “I know I can shoot, I know where my teammates are going to be and I know that I need to be ready to knock down shots when my number is called. If I can do those things, I know I can be a part of helping us win.”