While her numbers may not show it, Katie McWilliams has played a valuable role during her first two seasons with the Oregon State women’s basketball team.
McWilliams, who was a starter at South Salem High before signing with the Beavers, is averaging just 3.9 points and 1.7 assists per game through those two seasons.
However, she has shown the ability to put up big numbers. She went off for a career-high 29 points in a win over Lamar in the season opener last season, and dished out nine assists against Cal Poly in her freshman season. SHe also had 10 points in a loss to Connecticut in the Final Four.
One reason the numbers haven't always been the best is McWilliams has been asked to play a variety of roles. And it’s that versatility that has made her so valuable.
Last year McWilliams had to learn and play four positions. She played in all 33 games, making nine starts, and in her roughly 21 minutes on the floor, she averaged 4.8 points and 2.5 rebounds a contest.
“She might not have a huge line but if you look at the game, she impacts the game in so many ways just through angles and her IQ and making the right play at the right time,” coach Scott Rueck said.
Now a junior, McWilliams is excited to focus on a more specific role as she tries to help the Beavers replace some key members off last year’s team.
“I’ve talked to Scott about it and I know I just want to settle down to one or two positions, just to feel comfortable there and feel like I know what I’m doing all the time,” McWilliams said.
The likely positions will be at point guard and the two-guard.
McWilliams got a number of starts at the point in her freshman year when Sydney Wiese broke a bone in her hand and had to sit out.
McWilliams started her second game at the position against No. 3 Notre Dame on the road, and nearly led the Beavers to the upset. The Beavers lost 62-61.
She also had a baptism by fire in a game at UCLA a week later when the athletic Bruins pestered her from the start.
Still, it was a great learning experience for McWilliams, who hadn’t played the position in years.
“I do look back at it and people do bring it up all the time,” McWilliams said. “Obviously it was great experience for me and just showed that I can play that 1 spot even though it wasn’t what I was used to in high school and club ball. Definitely something I can do and I will be up to that challenge to be a point guard if I need to.”
At 6-foot-2 and with her skill set, McWilliams is a logical choice to fill the position that is now void with Wiese’s graduation after last season.
“Her personality is to distribute and that’s her character, it’s her game,” Rueck said. “I think she’s the best passer I’ve ever coached. She sees the floor differently than anyone I’ve ever coached. And she’s 6-2, so she’s got the height. Creating is just what she does.”
If she does play the point, she may get some help bringing the ball up the court from time to time.
“We’ve kind of adjusted our offense just so that it’s not just relied on one person to bring up the ball,” McWilliams said. “It’s a lot of pressure. I know for me being a tall point guard it’s hard to have those little guards all over me.”
While her specific roles may develop as the season progresses, McWilliams knows one thing: She will be ready.
“As of right now I don’t know exactly what that’s going to be but I know that I’m going to execute as well as I can at those positions,” she said.
Beavers ranked 19th
Oregon State will open the season No. 19 in The Associated Press top 25 poll.
Five Pac-12 teams made the preseason rankings. UCLA was No. 8, Stanford No. 10, Oregon No. 11, Oregon State at 19 and California at No. 20.
Arizona State, Washington and Washington State also received votes.
Connecticut was the unanimous pick for No. 1.