Longhorn Hall of Honor: Kim Basinger
Nov. 8, 2011
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
When Jody Conradt hosted Kim Basinger for a recruiting visit, the newly-hired Texas Women's Basketball coach took Basinger on a tour of the Frank Erwin Center, never mind that it was still under construction. It would be more than a year before a game was ever played inside The Drum.
Turns out, Basinger was quite taken with the dirt floor. She liked the idea of building.
Basinger was the first basketball student-athlete to commit to Conradt after she was hired by the Longhorns in 1976, and was the leader of the Texas Basketball program in the early years. A three-year letterwinner in basketball, Basinger was finalist for the 1978 Wade Trophy, presented annually to women's college basketball's national player of the year.
"How fortunate and blessed I was to be here at the ground level," Basinger says. "UT is part of my identity."
Basinger and her teammates established the benchmark of excellence that shrouds UT's historic women's athletics program. Under Conradt's guidance, they turned the unknown Longhorns into a national contender.
UT broke into the top 20, the top 10 and began Basinger's senior season in 1979 with a mention in Sports Illustrated. After being ranked as high as second, the Longhorns concluded that year as the No. 4 team in the country.
A South Carolina native, Basinger originally came to Texas to play basketball for Conradt at UT-Arlington at a time when scholarships weren't offered. Basinger was more than satisfied to have her out-of-state tuition waived.
After Basinger's freshman season, Conradt was hired to coach basketball and volleyball at The University of Texas, and Basinger eagerly joined her, enthralled by the possibility and opportunity.
"The potential was here, although it was just in the initial stages at that point," Conradt said. "This university obviously fit her. It was a great fit for me, and I think a great fit for her as well."
Today, more than 250 female student-athletes train and compete in facilities that are second to none. The support staff and resources are equally cutting-edge and first rate.
But that all exists because of the benchmark Basinger helped to set. After all, she wore her own clothes to basketball practice. In the late 1970's, the Texas Longhorns were just happy to have uniforms - even if they did have to share them with the volleyball team.
On the court, Basinger was a five-tool star. She dribbled behind her back and dazzled with no-look passes. As a junior, Basinger averaged 13.3 points a game and was a finalist for the inaugural Wade Trophy.
"She was one of the first players I coached who had the versatility to play multiple positions," Conradt said.
One of the top student-athletes of her era, Basinger earned the UT Scholar-Athlete Award, given to the top female student-athlete at The University, and received UT's Outstanding Student Award by the Health and Physical Education Department in 1979.
Basinger later earned a master's degree and served as the head women's basketball coach at Sam Houston State for five years, but it was a sudden epiphany that led Basinger on the journey of her life.
"I was walking with my mom on the beach," Basinger said, "and I looked at her and said, 'Maybe I'll just go to law school.'"
Three years later, she received her law degree from The University of Texas in 1988, the same year she joined her current Austin-based law firm as a clerk. Basinger was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1989 and became the first female partner in what is now the firm of Wilson Grosenheider Jacobs Basinger & Loiacono, L.L.P., in 1996.
"I tended toward it naturally," Basinger said. "In litigation, like athletics, there's always a winner or a loser. Making partner was a major goal, but I really just wanted to use my law degree to help other people. I don't have an end goal, really, just help people along the way. "
Basinger resides in Austin and plans to ride her bike cross country from Astoria, Oregon, to Yorktown, Virginia later this summer.