Ahead of the first game of the season, Van Buren standout signs with Division I Belmont.
Van Buren’s Jamilyn Kinney officially became a Belmont Bruin during a signing ceremony held on Wednesday at Claire Bates Arena.
“Visiting Belmont the first time, I knew this is where I want to be. Just walking on the campus… it’s just beautiful. the coaches and the players made it feel like it was part of a big family,” Kinney said.
Kinney will begin her fourth season at the high school. The team heads to the North Little Rock Jamboree on Saturday before participating at the Paragould Tournament starting on Nov. 16. Van Buren will have its only home game at home in 2017 on Nov. 21 in a game against Conway.
“From day one, Jamilyn’s greatest quality is she made others better,” said coach Chris Bryant. “She’s all about winning and a great teammate and is happy to be a part of something bigger than herself. The most impressive thing about her is that she wanted to make her school and her community better, and she’s done that.”
Kinney has been a notable impact on the Lady Pointer program. The team is 60-26 over the last two seasons and 24-4 in conference play. Van Buren made three straight 7A State Tournament appearances and advanced each season. The squad reached the semifinals of the 2016-17 state tournament.
Van Buren is also the two-time defending Neosho (Mo.) Holiday Tournament champions where Kinney was named tournament MVP both years.
“It gonna be hard to be that far away from my family, but being part of such a close group at Belmont it’ll make the experience even more enjoyable,” Kinney said. “Van Buren will always be my home, and Belmont will be my second home.”
Last year, the Lady Pointers advanced to the finals of the Fort Smith Tournament of Champions and lost to Hamilton Heights Prep Academy
Kinney has 1,166 career points going into her senior year and could finish second in the most points scored in Lady Pointer history. She averages 14 points per game over three years at the high school level with 217 career three-pointers. Kinney shoots 82 percent from the free-throw line and has 392 assists.
“(The Belmont coaches) will assess me in practice and use me as they see fit. I’ll have to earn my spot, but I want to compete for that spot,” she said.
Belmont is the current back-to-back champion of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Bruins have won 25 consecutive conference games and took 35 of the past 36 league wins. Belmont is 55-15 over the past two seasons with back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances. Bryant said the team shoot a lot of threes and play fast.
Kinney is looking into studying education and coaching to perhaps become a coach herself.