After successfully returning from an Achilles injury, K-State junior guard Ashia Woods has once again emerged as a key contributor for the Wildcats. Woods’ season ended early in 2013 when she ruptured her left Achilles tendon on Jan. 21, but she is back this season and playing better than ever for the Wildcats.
“One thing I was going to focus on the most was just defense,” Woods said after her injury in an interview for K-State Sports. “[Also] just flat out being tough, and just hustling for the ball. I mean, my first game back, I was able to do that and be more confident in taking drives. The coaches saw I was more confident and really didn’t second guess myself because of the injury.”
Rehabilitation from an Achilles injury takes a long time. According to the University of Wisconsin Sports Medicine department, a patient should not run for four months after their surgery. Getting back to Division I basketball shape after an injury like that takes a lot of toughness, which is one thing Woods says she has.
“To be tough, to be mentally tough, to know the game is going to have a lot of changes. There’s going to be runs and you’re not going to play well every day,” she told K-State Sports. “You’re not going to make shots all the time, so to do what you do best and know what you can control: defense, rebounding, the little things.”
Woods missed the first four games of the 2013-14 campaign, but has played in every game since and averages 9.9 points per game, which is second on the team. Woods averaged four points less per game last season; so not only has she come back from an injury, but she has also showed improvement. In addition to improving on the offensive end, Woods has snagged 31 steals this year, showing her worth on defense.
Woods’ best game came against the defending national champion Baylor Bears, when she scored 27 points with five rebounds and six steals.
“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,” head coach Deb Patterson said after the game, according to K-State Sports. “If the play breaks down, she figures out how to fix it. She has been bringing that and tonight we saw continued improvement.”
Woods’ success should not come as a surprise. She played high school basketball at Wichita Collegiate School, where she was a McDonald’s All-American candidate. She was a three-time All-State selection by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, and all-league four times.
“I think that Ashia’s ceiling is unlimited, the sky’s the limit for her,” senior forward Katya Leick said. “The one thing that I can say is that we can expect that she’s going to work hard.”
During her senior season at Wichita Collegiate, Woods averaged 22 points, eight rebounds and four steals per game. The Wichita native was a very accomplished player coming out of high school.
“In high school I played inside, but I could step out and shoot it, which they weren’t expecting,” Woods told K-State Sports her freshman year. “Now as a two or a three, it’s totally different. I knew the plan was to move me outside, but there was no real way to get ready for it without really experiencing it.”
The Wildcats have struggled this season, sitting just above Texas Tech at the bottom of the Big 12. Despite the struggles, the Wildcats recognize that they are a young squad. With players like Woods and freshman guard Leticia Romero, the future looks bright for the Wildcats. Woods will have one season of eligibility remaining after this year.