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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

MSU champions of change: Jerry Jenkins and Larry Fry

Courtesy+Photo+%7C+Matt+Dunaway
Jenkins was honored as the 2023 Allstate SEC Basketball Legend.
Courtesy Photo | Matt Dunaway

As we commemorate Black History Month, the groundbreaking legacies of Jerry Jenkins and Larry Fry illustrate the impressive history of the Mississippi State University men’s basketball program. Jenkins and Fry were the first black student athletes to play in program history.

Jenkins began his noteworthy career at Mississippi State during the 1972–73 season as a sophomore. His extraordinary achievements throughout his career attest to his talent and devotion, as he was named third-team All-SEC in 1973–74 and second-team All-SEC in 1974–75.

Jenkins is one of just seven players in program history to have at least 1,500 points and 500 rebounds. With an average of 19.3 points per game, Jenkins ranks fourth only to Bailey Howell, Jim Ashmore and Jeff Malone, extending his impact to the record books.

When asked about the impact he had on MSU athletics, Jenkins said his focus during his time as a student was simply just playing basketball.

“Everybody mentions all that,” Jenkins said in reference to his honors and achievements. “But I didn’t even think about it. I was just enjoying the game and enjoying the college life. You can’t beat that college life.”

Last year, Jenkins was recognized as Mississippi State’s SEC Legend at the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tennessee. Jenkins said no matter where he travels in the world, Mississippi State is who he is.

“It’s a part of my life,” Jenkins said. “Even though I’ve been in Europe a lot over the years and don’t really get to see a lot of it — I keep up with what Mississippi State is doing.”

Mississippi State Hall of Famer and SEC Legend Ray White said Jenkins was one of the reasons he chose to commit to Mississippi State.

“I [also] grew up watching Jerry Jenkins. They went 43-1 his senior year at Gulfport and won the championship. He went on to Mississippi State. Because of those connections, I always had a fondness for Mississippi State,” White said.

Jenkins demonstrated a dedication to greatness that went beyond his own accomplishments on the court. His influence is evident through record rankings and honors and permeates Mississippi State’s basketball legacy.

Alongside Jenkins, Fry helped make history as one of the first black student-athletes in the Mississippi State men’s basketball program.

Fry embarked on his MSU athletic career as a sophomore in the 1972–73 season. During that season, Fry had a true shooting percentage of 0.567, which placed him fourth in the SEC standings.

Moving on to the 1973–74 season, Fry triumphed by making 79 free throws, ranking him sixth in the SEC, and maintaining a respectable 0.624 true shooting percentage, ranking him second in the conference.

In addition to his exceptionality on the court, Fry held deep dedication to education and community service.

Fry graduated with various degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi, William Carey College and Mississippi State University. Fry went on to pursue additional education at the Principals Institute at Harvard and Ole Miss.

Furthermore, Fry was active in a number of professional and community groups, such as the MSU “M” Club, the Mississippi State Alumni Association and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

Fry’s head coach at Mississippi State, Kermit Davis Sr., was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame two years ago. Davis Sr. spoke about coaching Jenkins and Fry during his tenure.

“I’m 86 years old, and I’ve been here a long time. It’s a big thing that I’m proud of,” Davis Sr. said.

Jenkins and Fry left behind innovative legacies that not only influenced the history of Mississippi State’s basketball program but also helped the university move in the direction of a more progressive and inclusive future.

About the Contributor
Chase Brumfield, Contributing Writer
Chase Brumfield is a junior communication major. Chase is currently a contributing writer for The Reflector.
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