Women’s Basketball Pioneer to be Honored at Murray State

SPRINGFIELD, OH – Pioneers often become legends in their sport and, in time, those legends find a place in their school’s hall of fame. It’s simply a natural progression of things that makes all seem right in the world.

Jackie Mounts will soon take her rightful spot among the legends at Murray State University when she is inducted into the MSU Hall of Fame. Ceremonies are scheduled to take place on Nov. 13.

Joining Mounts in this year’s class of honorees will be John Beaton (baseball), Jenna Bradley (softball), Tara Isbell (soccer) and former men’s basketball coach Billy Kennedy. Other members of this year’s class are Nick Newcomb (men’s golf), Patrick Newcomb (men’s golf) and Cameron Payne (men’s basketball), along with Walter Powell (football) and Joi Scott (women’s basketball).

This marks the 38th class of honorees since the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame began in 1965.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Mounts said of learning of the impending honor. 

For Mounts, the upcoming induction is simply another step in a long line of accolades that she has racked up since starring at Greenon High School in Springfield, Ohio before graduating in 1975.

Her parents were both athletes, as was an older brother. Together the Mounts spent many hours playing basketball on a full-size court a neighbor constructed in his yard.

During her time at the school, girls basketball was in its infancy across the country thanks to the passage of Title IX just three years earlier that forever changed the landscape of high school and college athletics.

Mounts, who stood five-feet, 11-inches tall during her time with the Knights was a big reason GHS lost just two games in her three seasons on the team.

But, she was not alone in the remarkable run of success.

Four of her teammates would also go on to play Division 1 basketball, despite playing prior to Ohio sanctioning a state tournament for girls.

Amy Flory joined her high school teammate at Murray State, while Kim Ramsey and Milley Holoviak remained in the Buckeye State to play at Dayton and Miami, respectively. Kathy Hall, another of her teammates would go on to play at Eastern Kentucky.

An all-around athlete, Mounts also played field hockey, volleyball and softball, as well as competing in track for the Knights.

“Our basketball coach was also the track coach and made us run track,” Mounts said.

It was on the hardwood where Mounts shined brightest.

The result was her becoming the first female to attend Murray State on a full athletic scholarship and she remains one of the greatest players in MSU history.

The start of her college career gave little indication of the great things to come for the MSU pioneer.

An injury suffered in the first game of the 1975-76 season required her to undergo surgery to have pins placed in one of her hands after breaking a finger on a hard rebound. She missed much of the season and finished the year with just 102 points.

The Racers finished the year with a 10-13 record.

She returned with a vengeance the following year and led the Racers in scoring with 459 points (17.7 points per game) that shattered the previous school record of 326 points set by Lois Holmes two years earlier. Mounts also paced the team with 335 rebounds (12.9 rpg) as a sophomore, the first of three straight years leading the squad in that category. She was voted the team’s most valuable player and earned a spot on the Kentucky Women’s Intercollegiate Conference team at the end of the season as her squad ended the year with a 10-18 record in what would be last season under coach Dew Drop Rowlett, who guided the Racers to a 59-68 record in her six seasons (1971-77) as coach.

Mounts’ junior season was a near carbon copy of the previous year. She finished the year with 450 points (16.7 ppg) and again grabbed 335 rebounds (12.4 rpg) as the Racers finished the year 10-19 under first-year coach Jean Smith. Mounts’ 189 field goals on the year matched the number she poured in as a sophomore. She was named to the all-Ohio Valley Conference team that season after being voted the team MVP for the second time in as many seasons.

Mounts closed her collegiate career by being voted the team’s MVP for the third straight season after scoring 410 points (15.2 ppg) and grabbing 375 rebounds (13.9 rpg) and earning all-OVC honors for the second straight season. Her 375 rebounds that season still ranks third in OVC history for a single season. The Racers ended the season with a 10-17 record as Mounts finished her stay in MSU with a 40-67 overall record.

“We didn’t have all that great of a record in terms of wins and losses, but the time (at MSU) was very successful on a personal and academic level.”

Mounts, the first player in school history to surpass 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds for her career, finished with 1,421 points (16.0 ppg) and 1,170 rebounds (13.9 rpg). She remains just one of two players to surpass 1,000 points and rebounds in school history.

Michelle Wenning (1987-91) is the only other Racer to reach those totals. Her 1,724 points ranks her sixth in school history, 303 points more than Mounts, who ranks ninth in scoring. Wenning’s 1,027 career rebounds is second, more than 100 behind the standard set by Mounts.

Mounts 13.9 rebounds per game ranks first in career rankings at the school. She also holds the school record of 28 rebounds in a game which came in an 80-78 win at Vanderbilt during the 1977-78 season. Her 16.0 points per game is the seventh most in Racer history.

Mounts basketball career continued following her career at Murray State. 

She was drafted by the expansion San Francisco Pioneers of the fledgling Women’s Professional Basketball League, the first professional basketball league for women in the United States. Mounts attended rookie camp, but was not offered a contract by the team, which was owned by actors Marshall Geller (Maverick), Alan Alda (M*A*S*H) and Mike Connors (Mannix). 

The league folded following the 1980-81 season after just three tumultuous seasons of operation.

“I wasn’t really interested in pursuing a career in professional basketball,” Mounts said. “I almost did not go to rookie camp, but they were paying for everything and I had not been farther west than St. Louis … so I went.”

She returned to work as an assistant coach under Smith and served in that capacity for four seasons (1979-83). Murray State tallied a 40-68 record during Mounts’ time as an assistant coach.

Mounts obtained a master’s degree from MSU in secondary education and later added a second master’s degree in counseling from Dayton. She worked as a teacher and counselor for 20 years and founded Helping Young People Connect with God, or H.O.P.E. in 1995. 

That organization is devoted to transforming the lives of at-risk youth by providing guidance, training, support and positive role models. H.O.P.E offers basketball camps to youngsters of all ages and has programs for the public.

“The key thing to keep in mind in everything we do is to work hard and have fun,” Mounts said.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *