Simply the best. The description has been used to describe Jess Zinobile’s individual, and more importantly, team accomplishments during four seasons on the St. Francis University women’s basketball squad.
Perhaps the most recognizable name in Northeast Conference women’s basketball history, Zinobile was the leader on Red Flash teams that appeared in four NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Tournaments from 1996 to 2000.
The two-time Northeast Conference women’s Player of the Year and three-time NEC Tournament Most Valuable Player, Zinobile is one of only four former players to have a jersey number retired at St. Francis – and the only woman student-athlete to earn the honor.
Her No. 22 hangs at DeGol Arena alongside those jerseys of Basketball Hall of Famer Maurice Stokes (26) and National Basketball League stars Norm Van Lier (12) and Kevin Porter (10).
Zinobile officially will be inducted into the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 on October 16. The induction ceremony will be at the Pasquerilla Conference Center following two previous postponements in 2020 and this past July.
At the time of her graduation, Zinobile held St. Francis and Northeast Conference records for scoring with 2,338 points and rebounds with 1,295. St. Francis’ Jess Kovatch broke the scoring mark in 2019.
Among Zinobile’s career accomplishments are:
- She led the Red Flash to four Northeast Conference (NEC) titles.
- The conference named Zinobile NEC Newcomer of the Year in 1996-97.
- Zinobile twice earned NEC Player of the Year honors.
- She was a three-time NEC Tournament Most Valuable Player.
- Throughout her career, Zinobile garnered 14 NEC Player of the Week honors, a record at the time of her graduation.
- She set Northeast Conference all-time records for scoring (2,338 points) and rebounds (1,295), though St. Francis’ Jess Kovatch broke the scoring mark in 2019.
- Following her senior season, she participated in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game.
- The Sacramento Monarchs selected Zinobile in the 2000 WNBA Draft, making her the first NEC player drafted by the league.
- Zinobile played professional basketball in Spain, where she averaged 13.9 points and 6.0 rebounds in 51 career games at the country’s elite level.
- The Northeast Conference Hall of Fame inducted Zinobile into its inaugural class in December 2010 and a year later she was honored in the St. Francis Athletics Hall of Fame.