Last season, as true freshmen, Kansas State women’s basketball players Haley Texada and Ashia Woods were just getting used to life as student athletes.
They almost instantly clicked as best friends and were playing on a team with plenty of experienced veterans to follow.
This year, however, their roles on the court will be a little bit different.
While their friendship has grown off the court — now as roommates — Woods and Texada will be counted on much more on the court.
In a heartbeat, the two wide-eyed freshmen from a year ago have become veterans this season.
“They’re going to be critical elements at our chance of having success this season,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “They’ve got to be ready to take, not just another step, they’ve got to be able to take huge steps up this year, and I think they’re both more than capable.”
Woods played in all 34 games a year ago, averaging 2.1 points per game.
The 5-foot-11 guard from Wichita said she’s looked to senior guard Brittany Chambers for leadership going into her sophomore season.
“Brittany goes hard all the time,” Woods said. “There’s not a play where she stops, she’s always giving encouraging words to everyone.”
While Chambers has seen plenty of success during her career at K-State, Patterson said Woods is not far behind, and the hard-nosed guard has the capabilities to become a big-time player like Chambers.
“I think Ashia has the potential to be one of the most talented guards we’ve ever had,” Patterson said. “And I’m hopeful that the kind of responsibility on her shoulders right now will propel her to that kind of an expectation.”
Texada — a 5-7 guard from Frisco, Texas — saw action in only 14 games last season, serving as a reserve point guard off the bench.
“With Haley, we’re going to need her on the perimeter with Brittany and Mariah (White), and being a major factor, instead of just a support role this year,” Patterson said.
As roommates, Woods and Texada spend almost all their time off the court together. As their friendship off the court grows stronger, they’ve built a unique connection that pays off during on-the-court situations.
“We spend a lot of time together,” Texada said. “(Ashia) is really cool, really funny, an outgoing person and it makes for really good chemistry on the court.”
The potential to grow into leaders this season is there for the two sophomores, as K-State has just two seniors in Chambers and White, and welcomes in six newcomers.
“We like to help the freshmen,” Woods said, “because we know what they’re going through and what they should be doing. Slowly, but surely, we’re growing into that leadership role.”
Texada shared the advice she gave the team’s newest players.
“You’ve got to come in and work hard everyday,” she said. “You can’t give up or doubt yourself, if you’re going to mess up, mess up going fast.”
K-State will make its season debut on Thursday when the Wildcats host Fort Hays State in an exhibition game at Bramlage Coliseum, beginning at 7 p.m.
The Wildcats were picked to finish ninth in the Big 12 this season, so there is work to do if K-State wants to get back to the NCAA tournament for the third straight year.
If that happens, both Woods and Texada will be counted to help make that happen.
“I’ve seen both of them grow emotionally in big ways,” Patterson began about the two. “I think they’re more responsible and they want to grow to be accountable to their teammates and their program at a higher level.
“If they continue along that line, they’ve got a chance to be very, very special.”