Kennedy Leonard already cherishing final run with CU women’s basketball

Colorado guard Kennedy Leonard enjoyed the rare distinction of attending her third consecutive Pac-12 media day on Wednesday.
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Colorado guard Kennedy Leonard enjoyed the rare distinction of attending her third consecutive Pac-12 media day on Wednesday.

2018-19 Pac-12 women’s coaches’ poll

Team Points (First place)

1. Oregon 121 (11)

2. Stanford 107 (1)

3. Oregon State 104

4. California 82

5. Arizona State 79

6. UCLA 74

7. USC 66

8. Utah 50

9. Colorado 44

10. Arizona 28

11. Washington State 19

12. Washington 18

SAN FRANCISCO — Kennedy Leonard has about five more months remaining in her decorated career with the Colorado women’s basketball team.

These days, however, those months sometimes pass like minutes. An avid country music fan, CU’s senior guard often has found the lyrics to Scotty McCreery’s “Five More Minutes” spinning between her ears. The ode to longing for just five more minutes with something or someone special has turned into a personal mantra for Kennedy as she embarks on her final season.

“Looking back, the time has flown by. Especially since JR has been here,” Leonard said. “I was talking with my dad and we love country music. ‘Five More Minutes’ talks about how you can go through life wishing you had five more minutes of something. I think this whole season I’ll be wishing I had five more minutes of this.”

Leonard enjoyed the rare distinction of attending her third consecutive Pac-12 media day on Wednesday, getting joined at Pac-12 headquarters by the only other senior on the team, Alexis Robinson.

Improbably, both guards enter the 2017-18 season with the exact same number of made 3-pointers in their careers at 131, which ranks 12th all-time in program history. Barring injury Leonard will break Bridget Turner’s career record of 612 assists (Leonard has 529) and she also enters the season ranked 14th all-time in scoring (1,383), 12th in free throws made (328) and attempted (438), and 11th in steals (184).

Leonard, Robinson, and junior guard Quinessa Caylao-Do account for the only upperclassmen on CU’s roster, but head coach JR Payne is glad the team’s overall youth is balanced by experience in the backcourt.

“If you had to pick the position where you have seniors that play a lot, it would be your backcourt,” Payne said. “They make decisions, they lead huddles, they’re setting things up. And all of that is great.”

Knight’s return

Payne believes the sophomore trio of Annika Jank, Mya Hollingshed and Aubrey Knight will successfully build on solid rookie seasons. Jank was the Buffs’ third-leading scorer (9.1) and leading rebounder (6.9), while Hollingshed shot an impressive .427 on 3-pointers coming off the bench.

Knight’s season ended slightly early due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. Knight traveled to Europe in August for the Buffs’ run of exhibition games in Italy but was unable to compete. However, she was cleared just before the start of preseason workouts and has been a full participant at practice.

From Greeley to Pullman

The best women’s basketball season in Colorado last year was authored by Kamie Etheridge, who led Northern Colorado to a program-record 26 wins and the Bears’ first bid to the NCAA Tournament.

That performance led to Etheridge being offered the job at Washington State, and at her first Pac-12 media day on Tuesday she admitted she initially was hesitant about leaving Greeley for Pullman until a lengthy conversation with WSU athletic director Patrick Chun changed her mind.

“When I went for the interview I got shown the facilities and a little bit of Pullman the night before the interview, and I called back and said I’m not sure this is a good situation. Just because of knowing what we had to recruit against,” said Etheridge, who takes over a program that went 10-20 overall and 3-14 in the league last year. “And then I walked into an interview with Pat Chun, and we all know in women’s basketball it has very little to do with the geography or the state you’re in. It’s about the people you’re surrounded by.

“When they tell you they’re going to give you time and they’re going to give you every resource you need…you want to grab hold of that boss and say I want to work for you.”

Etheridge was replaced at UNC by former CU standout Jenny Huth, who spent the previous seven seasons as an assistant at UCLA.


Oregon, with reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year Sabrina Ionescu, scored 11 of 12 first-place votes to take the top spot in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll. Stanford, Oregon State, Cal and Arizona State rounded out the top five…All-tournament passes for the Pac-12 Conference women’s basketball tournament, which will be held for the first time this year at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, go on sale on Oct 31 at 11 a.m. MT ( Single-session tickets do not go on sale until Jan. 17.

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