BOULDER, Colo. – Linda Lappe may be a women’s basketball coach, but she’s laying the foundation of a revitalized Colorado program with a former football player.
Chucky Jeffery, a 5-10 senior guard, played football for eight years in her younger days, and that toughness shows up on the court for the resurgent Buffs, who are 15-4 this year. Jeffery is the leading scorer at 13.3 ppg, and shoots 44.4 percent from the floor, but that football mentality is shown in the 8.2 rpg she gets from the point guard position.
And casual fans aren’t the only ones confused by the name “Chucky” (many assume it’s the name of a player on the men’s team) as a doctor’s mistake led to her getting that nickname. “The doctors told my mom I was supposed to be a boy,” says Jeffery who's real name is Janeesa, “so they were going to name me Charles, after my mom’s grandfather. The nickname for Charles is ‘Chucky,’ but they found out I was going to be a girl. My dad was still trying to name me Chucky, so they just made it my nickname.”
But don’t just categorize Jeffery as an all-out jock, even though she played baseball and dabbled in karate. “She even tried cheerleading,” said her mom, Alana Jeffery, “which might surprise some people. But basketball and football are her favorite sports. When she was going to be in the ninth grade, she wanted to continue playing football, but they made a big deal in high school about a girl playing football, so she turned her focus to basketball.”
That turned out to be a good thing for Lappe and No. 20 Colorado Buffs, as she’s taken over as point guard for one of the surprise teams in the country. “Her biggest asset to the team is she is mentally solid,” says Lappe. “The point guard needs to be the coach on the floor and Chucky continues to grow as a player and a leader. Things don't bother her any more -- a bad call by the referee or a foul. Her calmness really helps guide our team."
Jeffery has another asset that coaches appreciate. "Chucky is very coachable and receptive to feedback.” Says Lappe. “She has had to learn the point guard position and has become student of the game.”
Part of that study comes on the defensive end, where Jeffery was named to the all-Pac 12 defensive team last year (as well as the overall all-Pac 12 team). “Chucky plays extremely tough defense,” says Lappe, “which helps ignite our team. She is developing into a complete all-around player.”
"I want to be the best player I can be,” says Jeffery. “I work really hard on my ball skills and shooting. I know teams are going to key on me and try to have me make mistakes. I need to be sure to put my team in the best situation to win."
She also understands that she doesn’t have to do everything. “I have learned to really trust my coaches. They are going to put the best game plan together for us and my job is to help execute it as a player and leader on the court. I also study other players, situations and watch a lot of film.“
All that hard work has paid off. Jeffery is the only player in Colorado history with 1,400 points, 800 rebounds, 400 assists and 256 steals – and to put those numbers in perspective, here’s a comparison to another pretty good point guard’s career: UConn’s Sue Bird finished her time in Storrs with 1,378 points, 330 rebounds, 585 assists and 243 steals.
So even if Jeffery is somewhat of an unknown quantity to most college fans, basketball or football, she’s definitely on the radar of WNBA coaches – and is a huge part of the success story Lappe is putting together in Boulder.