Appreciating the greatness of Kansas basketball legend Lynette Woodard

Lynette Woodard Harlem Globetrotters
Lynette Woodard Harlem Globetrotters / Mike Powell/GettyImages

When it comes to reminiscing on former Kansas basketball greats, many of the names mentioned are ones that you’d expect to hear such as Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, Paul Pierce, and others.

But there’s one name that should stand above the rest, and it’s one that has come up a lot in recent news.

Former Kansas women’s basketball sensation Lynette Woodard has been making headlines lately thanks to Iowa women’s basketball star Caitlin Clark. This week, Clark passed Woodard as the college women’s basketball all-time leading scorer – a record Woodard held for more than 40 years.

The fact that Woodard was able to maintain that record for over four decades – especially considering she earned all her points before the introduction of the 3-point line – illustrates just how impressive and transcendent of a player she truly was.

Woodard, a 6-foot guard from Wichita, Kansas, played at KU from 1977 to 1981 during the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) era of women’s college basketball. The AIAW would later dissolve in 1983, giving way to the NCAA.

Despite the NCAA deciding not to recognize player statistics from the AIAW, Woodard remains one of the most accomplished players in college basketball history.

Woodard scored an incredible 3,649 points while averaging 26 points per game during her four-year Kansas career. She remains first all time in KU history in points, rebounds (1,714), and steals (522) – all of which would also be records for Kansas men’s basketball by a wide margin.

She was a four-time Kodak All-American, two-time Academic All-American, and the recipient of the Wade Trophy in 1981 – an annual award given to the best women’s college basketball player in the country.

She became the first women’s player to have her jersey retired inside Allen Fieldhouse, and a few years after graduating from KU, she became the first woman to play for the famed Harlem Globetrotters.

Woodard was also a member and captain of the United States women’s basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

After coming out of retirement in 1997 to play in the newly created WNBA for two seasons, Woodard officially hung it up for good in 1999 and returned to coach at her alma mater under Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame head coach Marian Washington – the coach she played for while attending KU.

Because of her many accolades as a player, Woodard has been inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (inducted in her first year of eligibility).

Woodard is one of the most accomplished, decorated athletes in college basketball history.

Her legacy should be remembered just as fondly as any other former Kansas basketball great, and all Kansas Jayhawks fans should take pride in having had such a player represent the crimson and blue.