Missouri junior forward Jordan Frericks is fascinated by the process of building things.
It’s why she was drawn to major in architecture and hopes to design residential houses after graduation.
Growing up in Quincy, Ill., Frericks found herself enraptured by the projects her father, Jay, tinkered with around the house.
“I grew up with him building things, like our bar downstairs,” she said. “He’s got a whole workshop in our basement. My aunt (Jay’s twin sister, Jeanine) is also into interior design. That comes from my Frericks side, that crafty side. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed, so I thought I’d try architecture out and ended up really liking it.”
Architecture’s precision also suits Frericks’ fastidious nature.
“Her room is the most organized room I’ve ever been in,” said redshirt freshman forward Kayla McDowell, one of Frericks’ roommates. “Everything is color-coordinated. Everything is blue and gray. Everything matches and looks like it’s in its place”
It should come as no surprise then that Tigers coach Robin Pingeton’s recruiting sales pitch — come help us build the program into a winner from the foundation up — resonated with Frericks.
Three years later, Missouri is 21-7 overall, including 8-7 in the Southeastern Conference, and basically locked into its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2005-06.
Frericks, who became the 33rd player in Tigers history to reach 1,000 career points Feb. 21 in a 69-55 win at Auburn, is a big reason why.
“I don’t know if I have the words to describe how important she’s been,” Pingeton said. “She’s a workhorse and she’s first-class in everything that she does. She’s a tremendous student and a great teammate. She’s really trying to embrace being a more vocal leader. The way she goes about her business on and off the court every day is pretty spectacular.”
Frericks is unassuming by nature. She was something of a wallflower her freshman year at Missouri, but she’s blossomed on and off the court in spectacular, and sometimes surprising, ways.
“I was so shy freshman year,” Frericks said. “Communicating with people around me is something I’ve gotten so much better at, building relationships and adapting to adversity.”
Frericks transformed as a player, packing on muscle in the weight room and emerging as one of the top players in the SEC. She ranks 14th in scoring at 12.4 points per game and seventh in rebounding at 7.9 per game.
Her transformation as a leader arguably has been more impressive.
“It’s a little outside of her comfort zone to be a vocal leader, but that’s a role that she really likes to embrace, which is very exciting,” Pingeton said. “She knows what needs to be said in different situations, and she’s got so much passion when she speaks.
“She has the respect of everybody in that locker room and everybody just wants to know what’s spinning between her ears. She’s gotten more comfortable being uncomfortable in those situations and, as a coach, you couldn’t be more proud of that.”
During the locker-room celebration after the win at Auburn, Frericks’ teammates cajoled her into the center of a dance circle.
“She’s not a great dancer,” McDowell said. “I’ll tell you that. She’s got a go-to move — it’s kind of like the wheelchair move, I guess you’d could call it — but we forced her in there. She did a little dance and then looked down at the floor. We all just gave her a big hug. It was in keeping with Jordan’s style I would say.”
Frericks, who ranks third in the SEC among active players with 24 career double-doubles, wished the attention had been focused on Pingeton’s 100th win at Missouri, but she allowed herself to revel with her teammates.
“I might’ve busted a move,” she said. “It was cool to be surrounded by my teammates, clapping it out for me. I didn’t go with the wheelchair, but I should’ve thought about that. Kayla would’ve liked that.”
Frericks has plenty of time left at Missouri. She’s got another year, plus the Tigers end the regular season against Vanderbilt at 1 p.m. Sunday and still have the SEC and NCAA tourneys ahead this season.
Already, Frericks has authored an incredible career. She ranks 32nd in Tigers history with 1,017 career points and should finish among the all-time top 10 if she remains healthy.
Of course, Frericks is more impressed with her teammates, like junior point guard Lindsey Cunningham, who got her the ball in a position to score.
“That can’t go unnoticed,” said Frericks, whose career 50.5 field-goal percentage ranks seventh in Mizzou history, while her 764 career rebounds rank eighth.
Frericks is on track to break the school rebounding record and ranks 10th all-time in blocked shots.
“Getting to see her behind the scenes, her work ethic and everything … being able to witness that has been awesome,” McDowell said. “Her intensity is unlike anyone else that I’ve seen. Her discipline, she’s one of the most disciplined players I’ve played with on and off the court. I think all that factors into how great she’s been.”
Of course, Frericks didn’t come to Mizzou seeking personal greatness — she wanted to be part of building something. She celebrates her achievements in the context of the team’s triumphs.
“Scoring 1,000 points and things like that, it wasn’t something I thought about,” she said. “Honestly, Coach P just talked to me about her vision for where this program’s going to go, and I just wanted to be part of it and, in any way possible, make an impact in any way I can.”
Certainly, Frericks has done that.