It was during a summer practice that the idea of playing college basketball first took root for Purdy’s Katie Hughes.
“After one of our summer sessions, Coach (Eli) Ernst told me more than one player on this team would play college basketball,” said Hughes.
On April 10, Ernst’s summer assessment came to fruition when Hughes signed the dotted line to play basketball for Crowder College.
The 6’1 senior has a very high ceiling. With only two years of organized prep basketball experience under her belt, Hughes grew by leaps and bounds her senior year.
Hughes is a versatile player with the ability to post in the low block or step out and knock down 15-foot jump shots.
She has a soft touch around the rim and often got the shooter’s roll.
Hughes was equally impressive on the defensive end with active hands. Opposing shooters frequently had to alter shots in order to prevent them from being blocked.
As a junior, Hughes averaged 5.1 points, 4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. During her senior campaign Hughes averaged 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per contest.
However, the season statistics don’t tell the whole story.
The Lady Eagles team was dealt a major setback mid-season when scoring leader Mattie White suffered a season ending injury.
Hughes stepped up her game and became the black and yellow’s on-the-floor leader.
The Purdy post player averaged 13.2 points per game over the last eight games of the year, including a three-game stretch where she poured in 18, 17 and 24 points each night.
“Katie is such a hard worker on and off the court,” said Ernst. “She takes winning and losing very seriously. Late in the year she developed into the ‘go to’ player.”
Hughes stated that basketball is her one true passion.
“There is nothing about the game I don’t like,” said Hughes. “I love the competiveness and hope to be an impact player at Crowder.”
The Lady Roughriders, led by six-year head coach Tina Robbins, finished the 2013 campaign 29-6 and made an appearance in the NJCAA Division 1 Championship Tournament in Salina, Kan.
“We teach a very simple philosophy at Crowder,” said Robbins. “We want our players to have a strong work ethic in the classroom and on the court. We want them to develop as players and good citizens.”
Robbins is no stranger to basketball success.
She played her college at Missouri State University (then Southwest Missouri State University) from 1991 to 1994 and helped lead the Lady Bears to an NCAA Final Four appearance.
“I was able to watch Katie a couple of times this year,” said Robbins. “I was impressed with her touch around the rim and rebounding ability.”
Page 2 of 2 - Hughes plans to major in criminal justice.
She is the daughter of Leah Williams and Billy Hughes.
“In order to be successful at basketball, you have to set goals and never forget what you want,” said Hughes.
“Every day you have to work to get better. You have to play loose and not let nerves affect you.”