Fort Hays State University womenÃ¢ÂÂs basketball coach Annette Wiles has developed productive pipeline to northeast Kansas.
Two years ago, Wiles recruited Free State HighÃ¢ÂÂs 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.
Ã¢ÂÂKatie kind of became baptized by fire because we needed a three-guard to step in, and she stepped in as a freshman,Ã¢ÂÂ Wiles said. Ã¢ÂÂWe didnÃ¢ÂÂt know how everything was going to go, but she has matured and developed and continued to mature and develop.Ã¢ÂÂ
With Platz still out, Rhodes expects to see as many minutes on the court as last season.
Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂll play as many as she wants to give me,Ã¢ÂÂ Rhodes said. Ã¢ÂÂI want to do what I can for the team.Ã¢ÂÂ
Rhodes scored six points in the TigersÃ¢ÂÂ exhibition game against Kansas last Sunday. Her older brother Jim is a senior on the Fort Hays menÃ¢ÂÂs basketball team.
Ã¢ÂÂWe hang out a little bit, and we go to church together on Sundays and everything,Ã¢ÂÂ Rhodes said. Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs nice.Ã¢ÂÂ
Dieterich provides Rhodes another link to home. Although the two werenÃ¢ÂÂt great friends before they became teammates, they had played against each other.
Ã¢ÂÂIt was nice to come out here and know someone, kinda know who they were and where they came from,Ã¢ÂÂ Dieterich said.
Although she was a McDonaldÃ¢ÂÂs 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.
Ã¢ÂÂWe want her to remain confident as a freshman,Ã¢ÂÂ Wiles said. Ã¢ÂÂTo put that kind of pressure on a freshman right away can just freeze them and we donÃ¢ÂÂt want to do that to her at all.Ã¢ÂÂ
Now that Rhodes and Dieterich are teammates, theyÃ¢ÂÂre 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.
Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs a lot harder than high school, but itÃ¢ÂÂs really fun,Ã¢ÂÂ Dieterich said. Ã¢ÂÂI really enjoy the practices, and everyone is a great player.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂI love it out there,Ã¢ÂÂ she said. Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs a good place, a good school and I like the basketball program. There are good people out there, too.Ã¢ÂÂ