In Hugo, Okla. (pop. 5,978), which got its first McDonald's less
than five years back, Betty Lennox found heaven. It was there,
while playing for Grant elementary school, that she first heard
the words she loves more than ice cream and fudge and peanut
butter combined: Just shoot, Kid. Keep shooting.
Before she became a high-scoring guard at Louisiana Tech, where
through Sunday she was averaging 18.4 points for the
second-ranked Lady Techsters, Lennox was an offensive juggernaut
in one of the last states in the U.S. that required girls to
play basketball under the old six-on-six rules, in which each
team had three players on offense and three on defense. "I was
scoring 60 points every game I played," says Lennox. "I never
had to worry about defense. Just dribble and shoot, dribble and
shoot. It's what God made me to do."
Maybe so. But before ninth grade another higher power--Betty's
mother, Bernice--moved the Lennoxes to Independence, Mo. On the
first day of varsity tryouts at Fort Osage High, Betty was
jolted by a new reality. "When I dribbled the ball to
half-court, I stopped," she says. "I didn't think I could cross.
Everybody was laughing at me. I was like, Is there something on
my pants?" No, but she did get sent down to the freshman team.
It was only later that season that she was promoted to the
varsity to stay.
Lennox's journey to college stardom also took extra time. She
spent her freshman season (1995-96) at Butler County (Kans.)
Community College but was disappointed in the level of play. "I
knew it was all wrong when I saw our 300-pound, no-muscle post
player," she says. She moved on to Trinity Valley Community
College in Athens, Texas, as a sophomore and averaged 26.4
points as Trinity Valley won the national junior college women's
The adjustment to Division I was not easy, especially when
Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore, a no-nonsense kind of guy,
kept her out of the starting lineup last season and made her a
regular target of criticism in practice. "It was obvious Betty
had a lot of talent," Barmore says, "but she can sometimes be
undisciplined." Exhibit A: At halftime of a game last season
Lennox was so frustrated with her play that she went to the
locker room chalkboard and scribbled, DON'T PUT ME BACK IN THE
GAME! Barmore wasn't amused.
Episodes like that--and her nonstop trash talking--have earned
the 5'8" Lennox the affectionate nickname Psycho, but her game
is well under control and keeps improving. Even in defeat she
has been impressive. At Connecticut on Jan. 2, the No. 1 Huskies
walloped Louisiana Tech 90-63, but Lennox had a game-high 27
points, prompting UConn coach Geno Auriemma to say, "That Lennox
can score with anyone."
Lennox's next goal is the WNBA, and she figures to be a
high-first-round pick in the league's April 25 draft. If so, it
will be thanks in part to her obsessive commitment to weight
training. During the off-season, Lennox worked out three hours a
day, five days a week, and she has increased her bench press to
160 pounds. "Betty is dedicated," says backcourtmate Tamicha
Jackson, "and a little crazy, too."
COLOR PHOTO: PATRICK MURPHY-RACEY