Jan. 11, 2013
By Matt Park -
Adia Barnes. Dee-Dee Wheeler. Ify Ibekwe. Brenda Pantoja and Shawntinice Polk. These names are a few of the many former greats that have played for Arizona women's basketball and once the 2012-13 season concludes, senior Davellyn Whyte will join the list.
Until then, the guard from Phoenix, Ariz., will continue to rise in Arizona's record books. She currently ranks in the top-10 of 14 statistical categories for all-time UA career performances; steals, average minutes played, free throws made and three-point field goals made. Presently, Whyte stands third as Arizona's all-time leading scorer with 1793 total points behind Barnes (2237) and Wheeler (1966).
In addition, Whyte's talent and dedication has earned her a myriad of accolades given by various organizations ranging from the Pac-12 to the Associated Press.
Approaching her final games as a collegiate athlete, Whyte is more concerned about being a part of a different list -- a list that praises the name on the front of the jersey.
"It's easy for me not to think about all the individual records and awards," Whyte said. "Growing up, my dad always taught me what matters most is the win or the loss and to put my best out there with no regrets."
Whyte's desire to win can be seen through her selfless attitude towards making decisions to put her team in the best situation to compete.
In her freshman year, Whyte quickly established herself as one of Pac-10's most dominant players by starting in all 31 games and emerging as the conference's top-scoring freshman. Tying for the fourth-most three-pointers made by any Wildcat in a single season with 67, it was Whyte's ability to shoot behind the arch that helped her become a distinguished player.
As a result, she earned the 2010 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and was the only freshman to be selected to the Pac-10 All-Conference team.
However, opponents caught on to her strength and modified their defense to eliminate Whyte's three-point shot.
"I was under the radar my freshman year," Whyte said. "Teams didn't know who I was so that's how I got all my points, then teams started to scout me."
Rather than forcing her game, Whyte decided to focus on other aspects, so she began attacking the basket more often.
"I modeled my game after Ify (Ibekwe) a lot," Whyte revealed. "I realized if I played more aggressive like her and get to the free throw line, then my three-point shot, which I love, will be more open because it will keep defenders on their heels."
As a freshman, Whyte attempted 98 free throws. As a sophomore, Whyte's free throw attempts increased to 147, and she became only the second Arizona sophomore to join the 1,000 point club. Last season as a junior, Whyte attempted the third-most free throws in a single season with 186 among all UA players.
Opponents responded this time by double and triple-teaming Whyte in every game.
"When I started to get double-teamed," Whyte said. "I quickly realized that they were leaving my teammates open to shoot, so it made sense to pass the ball to them. I never worry about how many points I'm going to score."
Like her free throw attempts, Whyte's assist numbers gradually rose over her career. Whyte assisted 77 field goals as a freshman. Then in her sophomore year, her assists shot up to 97, and she finished with 102 for her junior season.
In Pullman, Wash., this last weekend, Whyte dished out 11 assists against Washington State to help Arizona secure a win in their first Pac-12 game of the season.
"My main goal is to help this team go further in the postseason than we have ever before," Whyte said. "The last time we made the postseason was my sophomore year, and I want us to get back."
The Wildcats haven't played in the postseason since 2011, when they lost in the first round of the Women's National Invitational Tournament to Utah State, 102-95. Arizona head coach Niya Butts and her squad knows the challenges that the team must overcome to get back to the postseason.
"This is my last shot at it," Whyte said. "I want to show everybody that even if we are undersized and young, we can still compete with the best. I don't want to be known as the player that won all the awards, but didn't help take the team to the tournament."
When Whyte was an underclassman, Ibekwe taught Whyte to be patient and positive in learning the game. Now Whyte finds herself in the same leadership role for the current young players.
"Davellyn is teaching me how to run our offense," current freshman guard Nyre Harris said. "I was never the main point guard in my career, but with Davellyn, I'm becoming more confident in my decision making."
Whyte admits that she wasn't fully prepared with the leadership role, but sees the importance of a team leader.
"Growing up, I was always the youngest in the teams that I've played in," Whyte said. "At first, I was a bit reluctant in take the leadership role, but in life, you are put into situations that you don't to be in. I've grown to embrace my leadership through trial and error. Coach (Brandy) Manning always tells us `It's not how you start but how you finish', and that's basketball, it teaches you lessons on and off the court."
Whyte and the Arizona women's basketball team will host Oregon State tonight at 7 p.m. MST and host Oregon on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 1 p.m.