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For Jensen, basketball is just part of the overall plan

Published November 15, 2012 1:01 am

College Basketball • UVU forward has passion for medicine.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Orem • Sammie Jensen could not answer the question.

As she walked Utah Valley University's corridors, the school's best female basketball player thought about it, laughed, thought some more and eventually gave up.

"I just don't know," she said, unable to remember her last spontaneous act.

As the reigning Great West Conference Player of the Year prepares for her senior season — coming off back-to-back years of averaging a double-double in points and rebounds — Jensen is single-minded in making her senior year a success.

She scored 15 points with 14 rebounds in a season-opening loss to Boise State.

Jensen, a two-time all-state basketball player for Grantsville High, also looks beyond basketball to what she believes is her true calling. She has wanted to become a doctor working with children since grade school.

There was no great moment of inspiration. No one in her family practices medicine.

"I have no idea why," she said after a practice. "I just loved it ever since I was little. You can go back to elementary school and I still have all my stuff written down: name, what I want to be.

"I've always been fascinated with guts and blood and all that type of stuff. I watched medical shows when other people would watch cartoons."

Even now, teammates occasionally chide the 6-foot post who averaged 13.4 points and 10.1 rebounds last season for keeping her head in a book. And, if one degree wasn't enough, Jensen will leave UVU with bachelor's degrees in biology and chemistry.

"She fits what I envision a Wolverine basketball player being," said coach Cathy Nixon, now in her 18th season at UVU. "She has the character that I want to build my career around and what I want instilled in my players. And she's a very good student. She balances the life of a student athlete with grace, and that's not easy to do."

It is, though, something Jensen has done throughout her life growing up in Stansbury Park. She played guitar and saxophone in jazz band, but had to give it up to concentrate on studies.

Jensen isn't waiting around for anything. She chose Snow College as a freshman in order to play and not sit on the bench. She chose UVU for the same reasons, without a tinge of remorse for being unable to play next year when the Wolverines enter the Western Athletic Conference and possible postseason play.

The GWC is not eligible for NCAA Tournament play.

"The NCAA Tournament never crossed my mind," Jensen said. "I play because I love the game. I chose the school because I wanted to play. As far as the WAC, it's a really great accomplishment, but it doesn't really change what my focus is."

One part of Jensen's life will end at the end of this basketball season, opening up another, more important chapter, without regrets.

"I've always been a pretty driven kid. I can't seem to take the easy route," Jensen said. "A big regret would be if I didn't go to medical school."


Twitter: @tribmarty —

Sammie Jensen at a glance

Two-time all-state player from Grantsville High School

Averaged 13.4 points and 10.1 rebounds last season

Earned Great West Conference Player of the Year






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