Hannah Schuchts to fill void in debut season for women’s basketball

After being forced to redshirt her first year, Schuchts will play a fundamental role amidst the loss of two top players.
Hannah Schuchts runs on the basketball court. Courtesy of Mizzou Athletics

Like any excited freshman, Hannah Schuchts came to Missouri in fall 2015 ready to play hard on the court for the upcoming women’s basketball season.

But because of an injury, she didn’t get to.

Schuchts, now a redshirt freshman, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her foot last fall. That injury ended up sidelining her for her entire freshman year, a complete 180 degrees from the rookie player she could have been.

“Last year, it was hard for her,” coach Robin Pingeton said. “When you’re sitting there watching your sisters go out and compete, you just want to be a part of it.”

But this season, Schuchts will be. The loss of key players Bri Porter and Jordan Frericks to ACL injuries is forcing many first-year players, including Schuchts, to step up and fill the void.

Given her sidelining last year, she isn’t taking this situation for granted.

“It’s definitely a big adjustment, not quite how we envisioned this season,” Schuchts said. “We’re all just excited to step up. It’s a big opportunity, and I’m ready for the challenge. I trust the coaches, and I’m going to work on getting better everyday.”

Frericks’ tenacious catching of rebounds and scoring inside the paint helped propel Mizzou into the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament last year. Schuchts also has a similar playing style, reinforced by her long wingspan, which allows for easy rebound catching and flexibility inside the paint.

“Frericks is a great player,” Schuchts said. “But I don’t think anybody is going to replace her. I’m just hoping I can bring my strengths to the table.”

Schuchts’ skills extend further. She can take mid-range shots, do post-ups, catch long passes, and impose screens. Most importantly, with her notably long arms, she can defend.

“There are times she made it really challenging on Jordan [Frericks] in practice to get her shot off in the paint,” Pingeton said. “She’s got a great knack for blocks and shots. She can [use] her space for rebounds. ... She is pretty crafty under the basket.”

Her defensive skills fit well with that of a center, but she can also shoot as well, which can be key this season.

And key to Schuchts’ improvement this past year, ironically, was being redshirted. After her injury had fully healed, she began playing during practices a bit, learning to adapt to the style and the players of Missouri basketball. Though she didn’t compete, she worked on positioning, cardiovascular workouts and the offense system.

“Her redshirting last year was huge for her,” teammate sophomore Sophie Cunningham said. “It helped her learn the game and style of play here. She’s never run a motion offense except first time last year, so it gave her experience, and that’s what she needed.”

It also gave her much-needed confidence.

“It was definitely hard to not play last year,” Schuchts said. “That’s probably the longest I’ve gone without playing basketball since I was a little kid.”

Cheering for her teammates and feeling accepted by them allowed Schuchts to appreciate the benefits of redshirting and to settle in with the environment.

Because she has not played in an official collegiate game, nobody outside of the team knows how much she has changed or what her present playing style is.

But the team thinks people will notice.

“You haven’t seen how she plays yet…” Cunningham said. “She’s going to be huge for us down the road.”

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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