(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
Since transferring to Arizona State from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in May of 2012, Katie Hempen has been doing her best to assert herself as a key contributor, and in this 2014-15 season, she’s done just that.
Hempen, a 5-foot-9 shooting guard from Highland, Illinois, wasn’t able to play her first season after transferring, but still practiced with the team, gaining experience and learning the system. Her efforts earned her the team’s Most Improved Player Award for the 2012-13 season.
In her second season with the Sun Devils, Hempen saw her first playing time with her new team. She averaged 21 minutes per game, good for fifth most on the team, and ranked third on the team in scoring with 8.3 points per game. With two senior guards on the roster, Hempen came off the bench for most of the 2013-14 season but showed some promise as a spot up shooter despite inconsistent game-to-game production.
Now in her third season with the Sun Devils, the redshirt junior has taken over the starting shooting guard role and has developed into a lethal shooter. Hempen has shot 38.5% from the field and 38.2% from three, both improvements from years prior. Through 22 games this season, Hempen has already matched her 2013-14 point total of 273.
Hempen leads the Sun Devils in scoring this season with 12.4 points per game including a career high of 22 points in the loss to Pac-12 leader Oregon State, a game in which she hit six three pointers.
While she is a prolific shooter, her game doesn’t stop at her ability to score. She also grabs 3.0 rebounds per game, dishes out 2.4 assists per game, and has been praised by Coach Charli Turner Thorne for her defensive efforts as well.
“[Her impact] is a lot more than just scoring,” said Turner Thorne. “She’s definitely our best help-side defender, she takes a charge in just about every game, and just one of our leaders, brings great energy. And you know, I think she’s just a complete player…She’s actually the best screener on our team as well.”
As Arizona State’s premiere perimeter threat, Hempen has put much of her focus this year on being a leader and making sure the Arizona State offense flows, setting great screens and taking what the defense gives her when the ball is in her hands.
“I really don’t think too much about what I’m doing,” Hempen said of her offensive mindset. “I mostly think about how my defense in playing me. I watch a lot of film on how the defense would normally be playing me…so I think just preparation is what gets me to have great offense throughout the game.”
Throughout the year, Hempen has grown into her role as one of the leaders of this Sun Devil team, and has consistently reminded opponents of why she’s one of the most dangerous shooters in the Pac-12.
As Arizona State gets into the second half of conference play, they will be vying for the top spot while adding to their resume as a potential top three seed in the NCAA tournament. The Sun Devils have proved that they are a talented all-around team, but will need Hempen’s shooting to continue if they want to achieve their goals.
Katie Hempen has affirmed herself as one of the top players on this Arizona State roster, and with her on the perimeter, the Sun Devils truly have reason to believe that a deep run into the tournament is possible.