By Emily McMillan
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
K-State`s junior forward Ashia Woods is a native of Wichita, Kansas. She comes to Kansas State from Wichita Collegiate High School. Ashia was a McDonald's All-American Candidate, and during her senior season, she averaged 22 points per game, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 assists and 2 blocks per game. She always dreamed of playing basketball at the college level.
Eventually, though hard work and patience Woods got her shot. Getting a scholarship from K-State her freshman year, Ashia played in all 34 games that season. She averaged 2.1 points in her average of 14.3 minutes per game. She was on her way to becoming a key player at K-State her sophomore year.
Last season Ashia started in all 18 games that she played in and was averaging a career high of 5.9 points per game and racked up 11 blocked shots. She also had five games that she scored in double digits. She was a very consistent role type player for K-State’s offense.
“I felt like my play last season was mostly distributing the ball and getting rebounds allowing us to have that extra position. A lot of that was making the next pass and being relied on not to make those turnovers,” Woods said.
Ashia made her first career start against Idaho State last season. She registered 13 rebounds and five steals playing 32 minutes in the game. After that game hopes were high for a great season out of Ashia.
Woods only got to play in 18 games of the season because of a season ending ruptured Achilles tendon in her left leg. This was a huge blow for her and for K-State’s team which was having its fair share of season ending injuries last season. But this set off a process to recover and a desire in Ashia to come back better physically and mentally.
The recovery from a ruptured Achilles tendon is a long process. Ashia was in a boot and cast for four months were she could not play any basketball during that time. The only thing she could do was lift. Sitting on the sidelines watching her team make strides was a struggle for her. Being on the side lines and only being mentally in the game allowed Ashia to be more of a student of the game and continued to help her confidence and motivation to get better.
“I feel like I have more confidence this year I think I know more of what to expect. I know what more to do to please the coaches and to know what they are trying to tell me. I know it is going to make our team better. Being on the sidelines for a year, I only got to hear from the coaches what the team should have done. So that made my knowledge of that greater, and now I have a better feel for the game,” said Woods.
Through the remainder of the season and the off season Ashia has worked to get back to her form before her season ending injury and has tried to come back better than before. But that was no easy thing to do.
“Once I got my cast off, I was in the pool every day trying to relearn how to walk again and that gradually became jogging and that did not even come until August… Once things started happening, they kind of snowballed from there and became harder. We had rehab for two hours at a time. They had me on the bike three times a day… Then finally, my first game back was in the Bahamas, and it went well.” Woods said.
Seeing her team make it to the WNIT championship last season made her want to improve and get back faster. She became mentally tough from the bench learning to improve her game, and see her team improve.
“Knowing that the team made it to the WNIT it kind of put a fire in me that we can do better. The WNIT is great but I would love to make it to the NCAA torment,” Woods said.
Woods is helping get her team get back to the place of success. Last Thursday, against Baylor, Ashia put up some career setting numbers. She had a career high 27 points, six steals, five rebounds, and three assists. Her work over the off-season has improved her game and she continues to improve.
“Ashia has not been posting these types of scoring numbers but she has run the offense, screening, wanted to catch it, made the next pass and executed. If the play breaks down, she figures out how to fix it. She has been bringing that, and tonight we saw continued improvement. We talk all the time about stepping in the gym and getting better,” said K-State`s Head Coach Deb Patterson.
Coach Patterson is also very impressed with Ashia’s ability to battle with Baylor, which is one of the best teams in the country. Ashia thinks she is better than she was before but she still thinks she has room to improve.
“I am probably playing with the most confidence that I have been just because of practice. Rehab is also where I got a lot of confidence from. So much of it is repetition, where I just know what I am doing, and I am just playing with confidence,” Woods said.
But during the up-rise of this young player’s career she is known for her willingness to want to win and do the little things to get that accomplished. She says that she tries to make good picks and to find the open man and tries to improve to become a better scoring threat.
In native Kansan Ashia`s come-back season, she has improved drastically from her play last season. As her confidence grows, so does the confidence of her team.
Ashia knows to improve she has to find that strength to keep building on the season that was cut short to see what she is capable of.