Coming out of high school, Ruthy Hebard of Fairbanks basically had her choice of where she wanted to play college basketball.
She picked the Oregon Ducks, a decision that confused some because the Pac-12 program wasn’t a perennial power on the national scale.
By now, though, people have realized Hebard is an original.
The 6-foot-4 forward proved that point with a one-of-a-kind performance on a recent two-game road trip when she led Oregon to a pair of wins, broke a school record, scored a career high, and earned Pac-12 player-of-the-week honors.
Hebard, of West Valley High fame, also reached a major milestone, becoming the 21st Alaskan and 10th Alaska woman to score 1,000 career points at the NCAA D1 level.
“I love representing Alaska, Oregon, and most importantly, my family,” she told me. “They believed in me.”
“My dad told me I could do anything and go anywhere I want, when half the people didn’t believe I would be anything.
“Just doing it and making him proud and playing every game for my family is a blessing.”
In typical Hebard fashion, she accomplished the 1,000-point feat faster than any other woman from Alaska. She did it in 63 games to shatter the previous record of 73 games set in 2007 by Chugiak’s Kelsey Griffin at Nebraska.
Griffin – the state’s only member of the 2K club [man or woman] – headlines Alaska’s royal court of female 1,000-point scorers. Others include Jeannie Hebert, Talisa Rhea, Andrea Lloyd Curry, Brit Jacobson, Molly Tuter, Chandice Cronk, Jessica Moore and Natalie Jones.
And now Hebard.
“It feels great to be in the 1,000 club,” she said. “I’m just happy I got it on the same day as one of my best friends.”
Hebard and Oregon teammate Sabrina Ionescu became the second and third sophomores in school history to reach the 1K mark. For them to do it in the same game is storybook.
“I love this place,” Hebard said.
At Oregon, she has blossomed from all-conference as a freshman to All-American caliber as a sophomore. She earned the opportunity to play right away with the Ducks, who gave her the ball and the freedom to develop her game.
While not yet the most polished post player yet, Hebard is exceptional at moving without the ball and cutting with purpose, setting a screen and rolling hard to the rim. She simply finds a way to get open in the flow of the offense, and those little things add up.
It helps that Hebard found the right system at Oregon, where the coaches are willing to showcase her strengths. That’s a big reason why she ended up a Duck in the first place.
Take last week’s two-game road series when she drained 25-of-27 field goals, including a 12-for-12 effort against Washington State to set a school record for single-game field goal percentage. Two days earlier she scored a career-high 30 points against Washington.
The Pac-12 player-of-the-week award was Hebard’s first.
NCAA D1 1,000-point scorers from Alaska
2,033 Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska/Chugiak High
1,766 Jeannie Hebert, Miami/Monroe Catholic High
1,664 Talisa Rhea, Oregon State/Seattle U/Juneau-Douglas High
1,596 Andrea Lloyd Curry, Texas/Juneau-Douglas High
1,519 Brit Jacobson, Kansas State/Chugiak High
1,374 Molly Tuter, Arizona State/Soldotna High
1,346 Chandice Cronk, Santa Clara/Wasilla High
1,233 Jessica Moore, Connecticut/Colony High
1,149 Natalie Jones, Arizona/East High
*1,013 Ruthy Hebard, Oregon/West Valley High
1,974 Trajan Langdon, Duke/East High
1,607 Chris Devine, Santa Barbara/Chugiak High
1,506 Carlos Boozer, Duke/Juneau-Douglas High
1,389 Damen Bell-Holter, Oral Roberts/Ketchikan High
1,341 Mario Chalmers, Kansas/Bartlett High
1,337 Andre Laws, San Diego/East High
1,279 Kyle Bailey, Santa Clara/Lathrop High
1,250 Colter Lasher, Houston Baptist/Dimond High
1,227 Jason Erickson, Montana State/Chugiak High
1,120 Devon Bookert, Florida State/West High
1,030 Damon Sherman-Newsome, Colgate/Bartlett High