Linnell Jones McKenney
Flint's First Female Pro Basketball Player
July 20, 2022
She is a burst of firery energy, exploding like a supernova of positive thinking as she enters the room. She is Linnell Jones McKenney, and her story is one for the ages. She decided at an early age that unlike most of her family she didn’t want to work in one of Flint’s GM factories when she graduated from high school. She wanted to be a professional basketball player. Only problem is she was a girl. And there were no girl hoops teams, anywhere least of all a professional league. But she persisted and she played with the boys- in schools that housed some of the best boys in the state. And she beat them out. Finally getting a chance to play with a girls team she excelled in a major way.
To say it worked out would be an understatement. Linnell went on to become Flint’s first female professional basketball player, Senior Olympic Champion, local legend, and Italian athletic folk hero for scoring 84 points in a game in Italy, Jones-McKenney is a ground breaking, barrier shattering, positive force of pure energy. In 1980, Jones-McKenney qualified for the U.S. Olympics, but it was boycotted that year so she couldn’t compete. After college, she was drafted fourth overall in 1980 by the St. Louis Streaks of the Women’s Basketball League. She was named the Italian league’s Most Valuable Player three times, earned five All-Star nods, and scored 84 points in a single game. All of those stories and more in a optimistic and motivational romp down the court in the Aquarium with Linnell Jones McKenney!