NORMAN — All Whitney Hand wanted was to leave her mark on teammates and the state of Oklahoma.
Then last Thursday, Hand “took a normal jump stop.”
“I was pushing off my left, and I was going up and I just felt it dislocate,” Hand said. “I knew immediately. Five years went through my mind and then I realized I missed the last free throw of my career. I just couldn't stop screaming. It really hit me right then. The last layup you'll ever shoot, too, and it didn't go in.”
Although 21 games remain on the Sooners' regular season women's basketball schedule, Hand's college career is done. The senior guard talked about her career-ending injury Thursday during the Sooner Sports Talk show. Hand suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during the first half of a Dec. 6 game against North Texas at Lloyd Noble Center.
Sooners fans gave her a standing ovation as she was helped from the court and sent an outpouring of emotion to the Fort Worth, Texas, native through social media. Hand said by the time she and her husband, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, reached the car for a trip to the hospital, her phone was blowing up.
“All the ways I'd impacted people along the way, I had no idea,” Hand said. “Had I not gotten hurt, maybe I would have no idea.”
The injury is her second ACL tear in her five-year career at OU. The first time Hand tore her ACL was on Nov. 27, 2009. She was absent from Oklahoma's lineup for 401 days.
The senior was a preseason All-Big 12 selection for the Sooners and was also on the Naismith Women's College Player of the Year watch list. She was also the most vocal player and the stand out leader for Sherri Coale's squad.
Now, that is gone. The statistics stopped growing at 1,211 points, 555 rebounds, 296 assists, 164 3-pointers and 120 steals.
“That leadership void and that intangible thing that Whit did where she just made everyone else better because she was walking around on the floor, I think sometimes when you have somebody the caliber of Whitney Hand, you don't want (be as vocal) because she's so good at it,” Coale said.
Oklahoma rallied to beat North Texas, 71-68.
Hand followed the game at the hospital thanks to GameTracker and text updates from the women's basketball sports information director.
“I hate that. I hate not being there,” Hand said.
Just a week after her college career ended, she sat smiling as her bubbly personality shined.
“At first when it happened, I was so upset because I wanted to leave this place better than I found it,” Hand said. “I kept thinking, ‘Everything's for nothing. All those millions of shots were for nothing.'
“I feel like I've been doing a lot of processing, and I'm good with it all. I'm OK. And all of the support I received, just the love, I was so overwhelmed with all of it. That helped. It was kind of like an ointment over me, for my mind and my soul.
“I realized, I could have played 30 more games, but my legacy would be the same. It is what it is, and I've done what I've done.”
The Tulsa World contributed to this story