Nothing so sinister as a snub kept Jackie Stiles from playing basketball at Kansas University.
So says Stiles' mother, Pam Stiles, in reaction to a Sunday Journal-World story that suggested a bad experience with former Jayhawk Lynette Woodard at a KU camp kept Stiles a standout from tiny Claflin who became the NCAA's all-time leading scorer this season at Southwest Missouri State from playing for the Jayhawks.
"Jackie definitely never felt she was ever snubbed at camp," said Pam Stiles, who was "mortified" when she read the account as told by her uncle, Lawrence resident Norm Stoppel. "We still have a picture of Jackie and Lynette together at camp."
Then why didn't Stiles who named her dogs Jacque, Rex and Lynette, a tribute to former Jayhawks Jacque Vaughn, Rex Walters and Woodard play for KU? Why didn't Stiles who grew up rooting for the Jayhawks, wore Kansas clothes and had a KU clock in her living room play for her mother's alma mater?
"There wasn't really any specific," Pam Stiles said. "When it came to the point she had to pick a top five, a top three, somebody had to be cut. I don't remember anything negative about her experience with KU. She always thought growing up she wanted to play for KU, but when she visited, she didn't think it was the right fit. When she met the players, she thought she had more in common with some of the other teams. She didn't feel she fit in as well as she could. It was nothing against the players or coaches. It just wasn't right for her."
Nineteen college coaches made in-home visits at the Stiles' Claflin home. Kansas was in Stiles' top 10, but she narrowed her top three to SMS, Connecticut and Kansas State.
"She picked SMS because she had gone to camps there," Pam Stiles said. "She liked the coaching staff and the school. Connecticut was a big-name school, but she decided that wasn't really her. She felt comfortable at K-State, also, but at SMS she knew some of the players and she felt she really fit in there."
Stiles' decision hit KU hard. Coach Marian Washington said the recruitment of Stiles was "on par" with the recruitment of any of the All-Americans who have played for KU.
"I couldn't guess why she didn't pick Kansas," Washington said, "but I know how disappointed we were. As hard as we work, we're not going to get everyone. The two leading scorers in college women's basketball come from Kansas, and we got one of them. We wanted both. We did our job on her. We can't get everyone."
Washington said the Jayhawks had followed Stiles since her ninth-grade year. SMS started following Stiles in eighth grade.
While Washington said she never did see Stiles play in high school, Washington dismissed that as not uncommon. She assigned assistant Maggie Mahood to be Stiles' primary recruiter, and Mahood saw a half-dozen Stiles games.
And Washington attended a Claflin High football game with Stiles and watched a cross country race in Claflin in which Stiles competed.
"I usually have a staff member watch games that conflict with my college season," Washington said. "I think I saw one (high school) game with Lynn Pride. I saw one game with Angela Aycock. I don't think I ever saw a game with Jennifer Jackson. But it's not like we didn't know Jackie could play. We knew she was good. We thought her style of play was perfect for us. We were very disappointed when she chose Southwest Missouri. We were so disheartened by it all."
Pam Stiles confirmed that Kansas' pursuit of Stiles was as zealous as any other school's.
"They recruited her as hard as everyone else," Pam Stiles said.
Like the elder Stiles, Woodard women's college basketball's all-time leading scorer was stunned to see Sunday's J-W story.
"I was shocked," Woodard said. "I don't remember anything like that. I don't know where those facts came from. I wasn't even around, I wasn't even on the staff for most of that."
But Woodard hopes to turn the incident into a positive.
"I know how to make lemonade out of lemons," Woodard said. "Somebody ought to do a commercial with us. The two leading scorers in women's basketball both come from Kansas. Yes, somebody should do a commercial."