Jennifer Keene signs with the University of Pikeville

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By John Overby

Last week, Washington County senior Jennifer Keene officially signed with the University of Pikeville Bears womens’ basketball team.

Her interest in Pikeville first began once the 2013-14 season ended for the Commanderettes.

Keene sent an email to Pikeville head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee explaining that she was a 6-foot-2-inch power forward who is “looking to help and willing to work hard.”

Bernabei-McNamee, whose team’s tallest player last season was listed at 6 feet tall, thought that someone was pulling a prank on her at first.

But this message was no joke.

“I was more than serious,” Keene said. “I feel like I was a blessing to her, and she was a blessing to me. It all just worked out.”

Once Keene received her scholarship offer at Pikeville, she stayed in prayer about her decision and was swayed in part by Pikeville’s psychology program, in which she plans to major.

“I was able to meet both of Pikeville’s psychology professors,” Keene said, “and I really enjoyed the way that they teach their classes.”

After coming across a quote from Corrie ten Boom, she finally came to a conclusion.

“’Every experience God gives us, every person that he puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only he can see,’” Keene recited. “It really showed me that the people that stood out to me are not only there to see me succeed in basketball, but in my major, too. My mother was behind me 100 percent, and her opinion I really value.”

Keene feels that her play last season was affected by a slight sprain in her ankle and she wasn’t playing her best, but going forward, she knows that she can contribute in a variety of ways to Pikeville’s squad.

“I’m going to be able to do more of what I like this year,” Keene said. “There are a lot of guards that can handle the ball, so I’ll be able to attack the boards more like I want to.

They’re gonna teach me some more post moves and get me prepared to be a beast in this season.”

According to Keene’s high school coach, Bernard Smalley, her biggest asset to the team will be her work ethic.

Because of this, Smalley believes that she is “going to be a steal” for Pikeville.

“No one’s going to outwork her,” Smalley said. “She’ll be a sleeper for (Pikeville). I just think it’s a great fit.”

For Keene, the future is going to be “an interesting experience,” one that she looks to face head on.

“I just felt like, all glory be to God, he really led me to this decision,” Keene said. “It just goes to show that all dreams can come true because he’s allowing me to fulfill mine each day.”