Ice is a regular part of Ashley Bates’ life.
Playing on a Hopkins basketball team loaded with individual talent and a long history of success, the 5-8 power forward has carved out a niche for herself as the Royals’ force in the paint. And while she may not be as tall as some of Hopkins’ noted interior players of the past, her results are impossible to dispute.
She is second on the team in scoring at 14.3 points per game and averages almost five rebounds per game. She’s less heralded than teammates T.T. Starks and Nia Hollie, but coaches know exactly what she means to the Royals, calling her the team’s “most consistent scoring threat.”
Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked to Bates about her work ethic and willingness to do tough things that help a team win but often go unnoticed.
Q: Do you consider yourself kind of an unsung hero?
A: I feel like the way I play, I’ll eventually get noticed. But right now, it’s not a bad thing at all.
Q: How much fun is it to play on a team with this much talent?
A: It’s nice, really nice. Playing with them makes me a better player.
Q: I bet you get some of the best competition in your own practices.
A: Oh, definitely. We play a lot of one-on-one and five-on-five. We go at each other pretty hard.
Q: Give a scouting report on yourself.
A: I attack the rim. That’s my first thing. I will shoot the three. I’m not a pull-up-and-shoot player, but if it’s open, I will shoot. I’m pretty good defensively. But my big thing is attacking the basket and getting rebounds.
Q: Being a strong rebounder is a lot of hard work. How do you prepare for that?
A: With me, I tell myself that the girl next to me is not going to get that ball. I have to get it.
Q: Must get a little rough sometimes.
A: Oh yeah, but I just get a little physical back with them. You have to show them you’re not going to get pushed around.
Q: What’s the most physical it’s ever gotten?
A: One time, I was boxing out a bigger girl and the rebound came to both of us. We both fell and I got choked when I was down.
Q: Have you always played that way?
A: Even when I was younger, I was physical. I figured out that the harder you work, the more good things are going to happen. That thought has always stayed with me.
Q: You must be pretty sore after a game
A: Yeah. I just make sure I ice everything down afterward.
Q: What has been the highlight of the year?
A: I would say our second Eastview game and how much our team came together. The first time we played them, we lost. The second time, we beat them because the whole team played together.
Q: What is one thing nobody knows about Ashley Bates?
A: Nothing, really. What you see is what you get.
Q: Hopkins has had a lot of success. Do you ever get tired of constantly being a target for opponents?
A: No. I like the fact that we get a battle every night. Even teams that aren’t that good give us their best game. It gets us prepared.
Q: Can you let me in on any Hopkins basketball secrets?
A: Our practices are harder than our games.
Q: The worst part about practice?
A: The words “On the line,” definitely. Sometimes when we mess up, it’s “on the line” to do killers. And the killers are really killers.