Woodard Returns to Allen Fieldhouse for Award Recognition
LAWRENCE, Kan. – During the first quarter break of the women’s basketball game against St. John’s on Sunday, Dec. 6, legendary Jayhawk Lynette Woodard was recognized as the recipient of the 2015 Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Women’s Basketball Award, delivered by UPS and the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
Selected in May of this year, Sunday marked the second recognition in as many days after Woodard was honored during the men’s basketball game on Saturday, Dec. 5, against Harvard.
Woodard compiled an incredible list of accomplishments and contributions to the game of basketball before, during and after her time at the University of Kansas.
A native of Wichita, Kansas, Woodard put together an incredibly successful high school career at Wichita North. There, she led her teams to two state titles: first, in 1975, and then again in 1977 during her senior season. In her 62-game career at Wichita North, Woodard averaged 27.1 and 16 rebounds per game. During her senior season, Woodard averaged 32.8 points per game and garnered All-American honors. Woodard then brought her talents to KU, the first All-American in the history of the program, where she would become one of the greatest collegiate basketball players of all-time.
From 1977 to 1981, Woodard recorded unprecedented numbers donning the Crimson and Blue. Earning Kodak All-American honors in each of her four seasons, Woodard led her Kansas teams to three Big Eight titles with gifted skill that allowed her to play any position on the court. Woodard tallied 3,649 points in total while at KU, more than any other Jayhawk on the men’s or women’s side, and an NCAA women’s basketball record that still stands today. Averaging 26 points per game, Woodard became the first Kansas women’s basketball player to have her jersey retired in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse.
Woodard left her mark in virtually every category of the Kansas record books. Aside from her scoring total that remains untouched by anyone in the history of women’s collegiate basketball, Woodard holds the KU career records for rebounds (1,734), field goals made (1,752), free throws made (505) and steals (552). She also posted the most double-doubles in school history with 74; the next most is Tracy Claxton with 41. Woodard logged 36 double-doubles in the 1978-79 season alone. On seven occasions, Woodard recorded 40 or more points; no other Kansas player has accomplished that feat more than once in her career.
Some of the best women’s basketball performances in the history of Allen Fieldhouse are also to Woodard’s credit. She set the record for points in a game with 44 against Iowa State on Feb. 27, 1979. A year earlier, Woodard set the single-game record for rebounds with an astounding 33 boards, again at the expense of Iowa State on Feb. 7, 1978. In her final season, she set the record for most steals in a game when she notched 11 against Creighton on Feb. 7, 1981.
Woodard’s career at the national level began in 1979 when she was selected to the United States national team for the World University Games, held in Mexico City, Mexico. Team USA brought home the gold medal with Woodard averaging over 14 points per game. The next year, she was selected to represent the USA again, this time at the 1980 Olympic games. Unfortunately for Woodard, the United States’ boycott of the 1980 games kept her from competing and forced her to wait until 1984 for her Olympic debut. In between Olympic years, she traveled overseas and played professionally in Italy for two seasons, where Woodard was the league’s top scorer in 1982.
Upon returning to the United States, Woodard was selected to be a co-captain for the 1984 Olympic team, and her squad dominated the competition throughout the Los Angeles games. Posting double-figure scoring efforts in all six competitions leading up to the gold medal round, Woodard helped Team USA advance to the gold-medal game where it defeated South Korea by 30 points.
As Woodard’s success continued to reach new heights, she broke down barriers for women in basketball. In 1985, Woodard made history as she became the first female member of the Harlem Globetrotters. She played with the Globetrotters until 1987 when she returned to the professional ranks in Italy. She then signed with the Japanese team Daina Securities in 1990 and went on to win the division title in 1992.
After her time in Japan came to an end, Woodard retired from playing basketball and moved back to the United States. She signed on as the Athletics Director for the Kansas City (Missouri) School District in 1992 and remained in that position for two years while she developed her trade as a stockbroker.
In 1997, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) emerged and drew Woodard out of retirement. She signed with the Cleveland Rockers in 1997, but was selected by the Detroit Shock in the 1998 expansion draft. After one season with the Shock, Woodard retired from playing the game she redefined over nearly 25 years.
Woodard returned to her alma mater in 1999, joining the women’s basketball staff of her former coach and mentor, Marian Washington. She served as an assistant coach until 2004, when Washington’s retirement led to Woodard being named interim head coach for the remainder of the season. In her five seasons on the KU sidelines, five different players earned all-conference honors, including Lynn Pride being named First Team All-Conference in 2000. Nine different Jayhawks were named to Academic All-Big 12 teams during Woodard’s coaching stint.
That same year, Woodard was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1995, Woodard added her name to the ranks of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Both inductions expanded her list of hall of fame honors, after entering the National High School Hall of Fame in 1989, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and the GTE Academic All-American Hall of Fame in 1992.
More than a decade removed from her involvement in basketball, the awards honoring Woodard’s outstanding accomplishments continue to come in. Earlier this year, she received the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL) Women’s Professional Basketball “Trailblazer” Award, recognized with nine other distinguished women for their contributions to the game.
On Sunday, the Kansas women’s basketball team and fans had the honor of recognizing and celebrating one of the greatest Jayhawks to ever display her talents inside Allen Fieldhouse.
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