Fort Hays State University women's basketball coach Annette Wiles has developed productive pipeline to northeast Kansas.
Two years ago, Wiles recruited Free State High's Katie Rhodes. This year, Wiles convinced Ottawa High standout Lindsey Dieterich.
On a team with just three seniors, Rhodes and Dieterich could log plenty of court time this season.
Rhodes, an honorable mention Class 6A selection as a senior, started 24 games as a freshman after guard Anna Platz injured a knee. Rhodes averaged three points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game while playing 17 minutes per contest. She made 32 percent of her three-point attempts and 69 percent of her free throws.
"Katie kind of became baptized by fire because we needed a three-guard to step in, and she stepped in as a freshman," Wiles said. "We didn't know how everything was going to go, but she has matured and developed and continued to mature and develop."
With Platz still out, Rhodes expects to see as many minutes on the court as last season.
"I'll play as many as she wants to give me," Rhodes said. "I want to do what I can for the team."
Rhodes scored six points in the Tigers' exhibition game against Kansas last Sunday. Her older brother Jim is a senior on the Fort Hays men's basketball team.
"We hang out a little bit, and we go to church together on Sundays and everything," Rhodes said. "It's nice."
Dieterich provides Rhodes another link to home. Although the two weren't great friends before they became teammates, they had played against each other.
"It was nice to come out here and know someone, kinda know who they were and where they came from," Dieterich said.
Although she was a McDonald's All-American nominee while averaging 17.7 points per game as an Ottawa senior, Dieterich played just six minutes in the exhibition against the Jayhawks.
That was by design.
"We want her to remain confident as a freshman," Wiles said. "To put that kind of pressure on a freshman right away can just freeze them and we don't want to do that to her at all."
Now that Rhodes and Dieterich are teammates, they're both working on the same skill - dribbling. Rhodes, a left-hander, is working on using her right hand more, and Dieterich also said she was concentrating on her ball-handling.
Both Rhodes and Dieterich are happy with their decision to go to Fort Hays State.
"It's a lot harder than high school, but it's really fun," Dieterich said. "I really enjoy the practices, and everyone is a great player."
"I love it out there," she said. "It's a good place, a good school and I like the basketball program. There are good people out there, too."