With a turnaround layup in the second quarter Sunday, Feb. 12, Elon University women’s basketball senior forward Jenifer Rhodes became the 23rd player in program history to score 1,000 points in her career.
And, with that, she joined senior guard Lauren Brown and junior guard Shay Burnett as Elon players who reached quadruple digits this season, the first time in school history that three players did so in the same season.
Despite Elon’s 61-54 loss at James Madison University Sunday, head coach Charlotte Smith felt like the accomplishment was fitting for the three.
“It’s just like a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Smith said. “When they came in as freshmen, we talked about their ability to turn the program around and to put this program on a national level, and I feel like they’ve done just that. I’m really proud of everything they’ve contributed to this program. They’re not only outstanding players, but outstanding people.”
Brown was the first to reach the 1,000-point mark, doing so by hitting a 3-pointer at the College of William & Mary Jan. 22, fitting for a player who currently is one make from deep shy of cracking the top five on Elon’s all-time 3-pointers made list. She received a commemorative basketball Feb. 10, remarking it’ll be a keepsake she will cherish for the rest of her life.
“One of the reasons why I wanted to come to Elon was because I felt like I would have the opportunity to play,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, when you reach your 1,000 points, for the majority of people, it was because you were able to have playing time freshman and sophomore year. I was really lucky in the fact that I did, so I feel like it put me in that position.”
And with Rhodes getting to the mark Sunday, both seniors felt an extra sense of pride in being able to accomplish the career milestone together and with Burnett.
“It’s making history,” Rhodes said. “We do something called words of affirmation, and my words are, ‘We publish our own history.’ We made history by having three players join the 1,000 point club. To do that with Shay and LB is a great feeling because I know we’re great ballplayers and we can do a lot for this program.”
Brown added, “Our team is so talented, and I think one of the things that sets us apart from other teams is that everybody has the potential to score and be an offensive threat. To be able to do it with the other two is special, and I’m glad to be able to do it with them.”
But when Burnett became just the eighth player to reach the 1,000-point plateau in three years or less while at Elon when she scored 23 points at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Feb. 5, it only reaffirmed to Smith just how special Burnett truly has been for Elon.
“We knew, when we were recruiting Shay, that she was a game-changer for this program,” Smith said. “She’s so super-talented, but not only is she talented and can do a lot of things for herself, she does a lot of things for all the players around her. She’s a very selfless player — almost too selfless, at times. She probably could have amassed so many more points, but she’s such a selfless player and does a really good job of making everybody around her better.”
That selflessness is apparent to her teammate Brown, who Burnett will likely pass on the Elon leaderboard sometime this season. And, considering she still has an entire season left, Brown sees the all-time scoring list and figures Burnett’s name will end up near the top.
“Shaylen is such a phenomenal player,” Brown said. "She’s so much fun to play with, she’s so unselfish. She is unstoppable out there. I feel like if we didn’t have as many offensive threats on our team, Shaylen could average 25, 30 points a game. She is just that talented.
“It’s really exciting to be a part of a team that she’s on because she’s so much fun to play with. She always brings a threat offensively, so it’s great to see her succeed and I know the sky’s the limit for her.”