One of the best players ever to wear a Keene State basketball uniform, John Jennings set the standard by which future point guards at the College are measured.
During his four-year career from 1985-89, Jennings not only wrote his name in the KSC men’s basketball record book, but left a lasting impression on his coaches, friends and teammates who were fortunate to know the Bridgeport, Conn., native who died tragically in a pick-up basketball game following his senior season.
“I’ve been coaching college basketball since I graduated and I still haven’t found a point guard that had the feel for the game like he had, “said Jim Ferry, a former teammate and present coach at Long Island University. “He knew when to shoot, when to pass, when to go for the steal and when to be disciplined. He had a major impact on every game we played.”
The legacy at KSC by the 5-11 guard includes a spot as one of the team’s most prolific three-point shooters as well as the College’s season (180) and career (669) assists leaders. He stands 18th on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1.060 points.
Among his most notable accomplishments include the game winning basket, a 12-foot buzzer beater as a junior, that gave Keene State its first win in the New England Collegiate Conference post-season tournament, 85-84 at New Hampshire College. “He drove up the court, pulled up and hit the shot,” Ferry recalls. “At that time it was a great win for the program.”
An emotional memorial service for Jennings was held on campus, and team members raised money for a bench in his honors that sits in front of Spaulding Gym.
In a Keene Sentinel story following his death, then KSC coach Don Kelbick described Jennings “as a young man from a “tough neighborhood” in Bridgeport who made the most of his opportunities in life and dealt with the setbacks along the way, including the death of his aunt that raised him.”
“After graduating he wanted to get out of that neighborhood, but when given the opportunity to leave …he decided to stay there because his family was too important,” Kelbick said.
As a further tribute to Jennings, Keene State College will retire his number 10 uniform this season.