Just one year after missing her season to a knee injury, redshirt freshman Mary Crompton is making an impact on the court for the Illinois State University women’s basketball team.
Last season as a true freshman, Crompton opened the year starting four of the first five games while averaging eight points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists a game. Despite being a freshman, Crompton was a key part of the Redbirds’ success, finishing with double-digit scoring in three of her first four games.
“I came in the summer and felt really good; I was just trying to get into the flow of everything,” Crompton said. “I did get to play and I feel like I got a lot of experience through that. By the fourth and fifth game I thought the game was slowing down and I was able to see everything way better.”
But soon Crompton’s season took a sharp turn. Crompton scrambled after a loose ball and came up with a dislocated knee that would keep her out for the remainder of the season.
“I was definitely in shock. I had been through another injury before,” Crompton said. “It was hard because I knew how much of a grind the recovery process would be.”
With a talented team led by Simone Goods, TeTe Maggett and Lexi Wallen, a healthy and productive Crompton could have pushed the Redbirds to the next level.
But despite the injury, Crompton focused her energy on getting healthy for this season.
“It was hard watching from the sidelines,” Crompton said. “I didn’t want to sit on it for very long, though, and move onto the next thing (rehab) and trying to learn as much as I could for this season.”
Starting the season, Crompton split time between starting and coming off the bench. Getting her first start in five games against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Dec. 16, Crompton exploded for a then-career-high 16 points.
That started one of the best stretches of her young career. Through the next four games after SIUE, Crompton averaged 14.4 points a game.
“I think that it just came at a good time. I think I just got into the flow of the game,” Crompton said. “After making the first couple shots, I felt comfortable. That was the time of the year I was seeing the game again.”
Despite the major injury, Crompton thinks it helped her mentality for this season.
“I think that the injury made me not take the game for granted. It can be a toll mentally and physically. Just not being able to play last year gave me a different perspective this year,” Crompton said. “[I am] present in every practice and every game and [I am] thankful that I can play this year.”
A known sharpshooter coming into ISU, Crompton leads the Redbirds with 50 three-pointers and ranks fourth on the team with 8.7 points per game.
Recently Crompton has hit a rut shooting just 3-for-22. But despite the struggles, ISU head coach Kristen Gillespie is not worried about the freshman.
“There are going to be peaks and there are going to be valleys,” Gillespie said. “The great thing about Mary is there’s not a kid who works harder; Mary Crompton will be fine.”
With a little less than three weeks left until Hoops in the Heartland, Crompton still has a chance to rebound to her early season rhythm.