Junior forward Amber Hegge is one of 11 players in school history to eclipse 1,000 points and 500 rebounds for her career, and she’s only a junior. Hegge is also 15th in career scoring and fourth in blocks with 1,163 and 107, respectively.
Playing in all 35 games her freshman year at USD and earning co-Freshman of the Year honors in the North Central Conference for the 2007-2008 season, Hegge redshirted the next year as the Coyotes started their transition to D-I athletics.
In the 2009-2010 season, the second year in the Great West Conference, the Crofton, Neb. native led the team in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks and field goal percentage, and earned spots on the Great West All-Conference first team and GWC All-Tournament team.
This season, the first season of D-I postseason eligibility, Hegge led the team in scoring and rebounds once again,
averaging almost 17 points and eight rebounds per game. She scored a career-high 32 points against Northern Iowa while scoring more than 20 points in nine games and getting more than 10 rebounds in eight games. Hegge was named to the Great West All-Conference first team and GWC All-Tournament team for the second straight year and earned GWC Player of the Week twice.
Hegge said she doesn’t focus on her stats, just working hard.
“We try to get better everyday at practice,” Hegge said. “Your teammates bring you up, your coaches give you advice and that definitely makes you better.”
When coming to USD, the Coyotes were still in Division II athletics and Hegge said she never predicted being so successful.
“I never really knew what to expect,” she said. “In the past I’ve played more on the perimeter, but this year I played a lot more in the post. I was always a guard growing up so this was definitely a bigger adjustment this year.”
Head coach Ryun Williams said Hegge has many characteristics that make her such a great player.
“(Hegge) is a perfectionist — she always wants to do everything right,” he said. “When it comes to practice, she gives everything she’s got and she continues to get better.”
Not only does Hegge create scoring opportunities for herself, she also looks for her open teammates, as she averaged more than three assists a game this season.
Sophomore guard Annie Roche said Hegge makes
everyone on the floor play better.
“Anytime you have a player like (Hegge) on the floor it makes everyone’s job a lot easier,” she said. “She’s so talented athletically that she can play any position. She’s a great person to have on the team.”
But it hasn’t been all easy for Hegge, Williams said, referring to her transition from guard to post.
“It’s taken an effort for her to get to the player she is today,” Williams said. “She’s an unselfish player but we asked her to be more of a scoring threat this year. She’s done everything we’ve asked of her and grown in that role.”
Roche said the other players look up to Hegge.
“(Hegge) is a really good leader for us,” she said. “She’s very humble. I don’t think she knows the talent she has. To have a player that’s in it all for the team and yet so talented is really special.”
“Hegge gives the team confidence and sets a great example at practices and games,” he said. “Doing what she does makes everyone better.”
For her final season as a Coyote, Hegge said she hopes to continue to get better and help lead the team to a successful first year in the Summit League.
Reach reporter Cassie Bartlett at Cassie.Bartlett@usd.edu