Chucky Jeffery looks at the waiter.
"Can I have the ..."
"Teriyaki chicken, no vegetables," the waiter said, smiling as he finishes the sentence.
"Yes, absolutely!" Jeffery replied with a laugh.
She's clearly been here before.
While Jeffery's dinner choice may lack originality, very little else about Colorado's senior point guard is that predictable.
This is, after all, a girl who grew up preferring to participate in football and karate to basketball and dance classes. She's a student who admits, "I'm not big on school," yet has the desire to pursue a graduate degree. And, she's a player who was once a challenge to coach, but looks forward to coaching in the future.
From her personality to her ever-changing hairstyles to her dynamic performances on the court, Jeffery is unique, and in the coming weeks, whenever CU's run in the NCAA Tournament comes to an end, she will wrap up a career that will go down as one of the best in the storied history of Colorado women's basketball.
"I just hope that I leave a long-lasting legacy of playing tough, playing hard and playing with energy," she said.
Tale of two childhoods
Born and raised in Colorado Springs, Jeffery established those qualities early.
She played in a plethora of sports as a child, including softball, volleyball and track. She was even a cheerleader for a short time as a youngster. While her sisters were at tap dance classes, Jeffery discovered a karate school. She earned an orange belt before giving up the sport to focus on her real passion: football.
"I just had a knack for playing football," she said. "I loved playing football. I loved hitting people, I liked tackling, running and throwing the football. I just loved the game."
She had three sisters and four step brothers and all of them were active kids. They never had trouble finding things to do.
"Growing up was the
It was also one of the more challenging times of her life. Jeffery has three men she considers to be her fathers -- her biological father and two step fathers -- and there were times when her mother was on her own and worked multiple jobs just to provide for the family.
"I know what it was like to struggle," she said. "(Jeffery and her sisters) had to make food for ourselves. My (step) dad went to jail when I was at a young age, and my mom was working all day. We wouldn't have no lights or no water and things like that.
"We've been through some tough times, but we made it through and my mom did a phenomenal job teaching us right from wrong and just keeping us on the right path. I commend my mom a lot. That's not easy to do."
Jeffery did a lot to help her mom, too. Underneath Jeffery's toughness is a warm heart that is filled with love for those close to her.
"If I was having a bad day, Chucky would always come into my room and say, 'Mommy, it's OK,'" said Alana Gayle, Jeffery's mother. "She always had a way of making me feel better. Chucky was a real awesome kid."
That kid had to give up football once she enrolled at Sierra High School, but she turned her attention to the basketball court.
Jeffery led the Stallions to three consecutive Class 4A state quarterfinal appearances from 2007-09. She averaged 19.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.6 steals, 3.8 assists and 1.8 blocks per game as a junior. She was even better as a senior, with 22.1 points, 12.9 rebounds, 4.9 steals, 4.6 assists and 3.0 blocks per game. Sierra went 44-8 in those two seasons combined.
Because she didn't get heavily involved in the club circuit, however, Jeffery didn't get a lot of attention in recruiting circles. Kansas State gave her a scholarship offer and other big schools, including UCLA and Arizona State, sent her letters, but no offers. She chose to stay close to home and signed with CU, then coached by Kathy McConnell-Miller.
Jeffery started 28 of CU's 30 games her freshman year and had a great season. The Buffs did not, however, going 13-17, and McConnell-Miller was fired. Now, Jeffery, who played for a different coach in each of her final three seasons at Sierra, would be getting her fifth coach in five years.
The adjustment to CU's new coach, former Buffs' standout Linda Lappe, wasn't a smooth one.
"This wasn't the first time Chucky had to have a new coach," Gayle said. "They all promised her they were going to do certain things, and then you come back the next year and that coach is no longer there.
"I think it was a matter of adjusting to each other's personality and each other's attitudes."
While McConnell-Miller lured Jeffery to Boulder, Lappe isn't sure Jeffery would have elected to play for her out of high school.
"Our styles are so different," Lappe said.
They got off to a rough start.
"I was kind of a hard-headed kid a little bit," Jeffery said. "I wanted to do things my way."
Lappe, of course, wanted things done her way, and it took a little while to get that message to sink in.
"There's been challenges, for sure," Lappe said. "But, the thing with Chucky, she's always owned up to everything, to most everything. I think that's been the good thing is she doesn't really blame other people.
"Our first year here, she messed up once every three weeks. Now it's few and far between. You have to look at the steps she's taken and give her a lot of credit, because it has not been easy."
In her three seasons with Lappe -- which seems like an eternity for a player who changed coaches every year -- Jeffery has gained a healthy measure of respect for Lappe, while making positive changes in her life.
"It was tough for me, but now I realize why my coaches are so hard on me and why they tell me things that I need to be doing," Jeffery said. "It might not be what I want to do in that moment, but it will help in the long run, and it definitely has."
Despite being CU's best player, Jeffery has never been a captain. That role went to fellow senior Meagan Malcolm-Peck this year. But, make no mistake, Jeffery is a leader.
Junior Brittany Wilson teared up recently when asked how much the Buffs will miss Jeffery's leadership and presence next year. Wilson's twin sister, Ashley, who is also a guard for the Buffs, said Jeffery has gained the team's respect because of her all-out desire to win.
"She's more worried about our team as a whole instead of her own individual and personal achievements," Ashley Wilson said.
Going out in style
Jeffery's favorite statistic is CU's current record of 25-6. But, her individual achievements have been remarkable.
Currently, she ranks sixth on CU's all-time scoring list (1,636 points), fifth in rebounds (916), fourth in assists (476) and fourth in steals (281). She is the only player in CU history to rank among the top six in all those categories. In fact, only one other player (Shelley Sheetz) ranks among the top six in even three of those categories.
Jeffery is the only player in team history to record 1,500 points, 900 rebounds and 400 assists. Only four players have accumulated more double-doubles than her 30, and of the three triple-doubles in CU history, Jeffery has two of them.
This year, as well as last year, Jeffery made the All-Pac-12 first team, while earning a spot on the All-Defense team.
"I think Chucky really stepped up for them," Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said of Jeffery's game this season. "I think she really grew as a leader, as a player that can take over games consistently, not just kind of here and there."
For all the good that Jeffery has done on the court in a Colorado uniform, Jeffery and those around her are most proud of the young woman she has become. She is set to graduate in June with a degree in sociology and has aspirations of helping others, through social work and, possibly, even coaching.
"I think she can make a great coach some day," Lappe said.
Even Lappe, who has had her share of headaches caused by Jeffery, can't praise her star guard enough.
"I don't know if there's one other player in the nation I'd rather coach," Lappe said. "Even with some of the challenges, when a coach can say that, it means you're a pretty special person and a pretty special player. I've never had a player that has been a challenge to coach that you'd do anything to have them around, and not because they're a good player, but because they have a good heart."
Because she's been such a special player and a dynamic figure on this team for four years, it is fitting that Jeffery gets to end her career on the grand stage. On Saturday, the Buffaloes will play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in nine years.
"Knowing that our name is going to be said on Selection Monday, it gives me chills just thinking about it," Jeffery said. "I just think it's going to be a great experience, a great opportunity."
Perhaps not as great as the opportunity CU fans have had to watch her play for four years.
Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianHowell33
Quick hits with Chucky Jeffery
What's in a name?: Jeffery's given first name is Janeesa. Before she was born, her mother and father were told they were having a boy. So, they planned on naming the child "Charles," after a grandfather in the family. After she was born, her father still wanted to call her Chucky. Her mother protested, but not for long. "They just made it my nickname and my mom said it absolutely fit," Jeffery said.
Body art: Jeffery has several tattoos, on her arms, chest, back and stomach. Almost all of them are family-oriented. "All my tattoos have meaning," she said.
Hoop dreams: "I definitely think that I could play in the WNBA if the opportunity was given," she said. "I definitely want to play pro. I don't want it to be over yet."
Greatest moment at CU: "Hands down at this moment, the Louisville game (a 70-66 CU win on Dec. 14). That was probably my biggest moment up to now." Jeffery had 22 points as the Buffs upset the then-No. 8 Cardinals.
Favorite sports team: Green Bay Packers
Favorite basketball player(s): Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant. On the women's side, Tamika Catchings, Candace Parker, Sue Bird and Maya Moore.
Favorite down-time activities: I love to shop, I love going to the movies. I'm easily amused, so I think everything is funny.
Favorite movies: "Love & Basketball" and "21 Jump Street."
Favorite food: Steak and shrimp