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Fussell aiming even higher after two lofty Longhorn years

Fussell aiming even higher after two lofty Longhorn years
Fussell aiming even higher after two lofty Longhorn years | Fussell aiming even higher after two lofty Longhorn years
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
The old adage “everything is bigger in Texas” is not lost on Chassidy Fussell.
It includes her own personal lofty expectations.
Despite her first two seasons in major college women’s basketball in which she averaged more than 16 points-per-game in each while being celebrated with widespread Big 12 postseason honors, the former Obion County Central prep star believes she can do even better.
In fact, she’s already working on it.
“I’m happy with what I’ve done so far, but I’m far from satisfied,” the rising junior-to-be at the University of Texas told The Messenger via phone Thursday during a break in her offseason workouts on campus.
“I’ll never really get satisfied. I think that’s what happens to a lot of college players in their first couple of years, and younger players then come in and surpass them. I am driven to do more and better in the future.”
Fussell, who’s started in 63 of her 64 games with the Longhorns and has eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in just two seasons on the collefiate level, set the bar high when she was first named to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team after averaging 16.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per-game during her first season in Austin in 2010-11.
The 5-10 swingman followed that up with an equally impressive sophomore campaign that saw her average 16.3 points and shoot better than 90 percent from the free throw line — feats that netted her All-Big 12 First Team accolades.
She’s spending a good deal of her offseason honing her already-impressive multiple skills while also focusing on broadening those talents and adding leadership qualities to her hoop makeup.
“I want to expand my game, and I’ve already gone through individual workouts with the new coaching staff and have gotten heavily involved in the strength program,” Fussell stated. “I’m working out some with the guys’ team too.
“I always want to do what I can to complement my game. Even if my scoring is down next year, I want to improve in other areas and do things to make my teammates better. I want to be a better leader both on and off the court to our young players because I remember looking up to the juniors and seniors when I first came to the program.”
Fussell landed at UT after a spectacular high school career at OCCHS in which she became the school’s first-ever and only Miss Basketball recipient following a senior year in which she averaged 26.2 ppg, 11.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists per-game.
She graduated with more than 2,500 career points — No. 2 on the school’s all-time scoring list — and was twice an all-stater as chosen by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association. She was also a McDonald’s All-American nominee.
Fussell was a finalist for the coveted Class 2A MBB honor at the conclusion of her junior campaign after averaging 30.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, four assists and three steals per game in that season.
Fussell said the adjustments to the college game from high school were many initially. She notes the speed of the game and the size of the players among those challenges, but then acknowledged: “Everybody on this level is good at two or three or four things.
“They’re playing in this league and on this level for a reason,” she claimed.
Though the Longhorns have made the NCAA Tournament in each of her seasons, the team has met with an early exit in each of those appearances. Fussell said she’s especially driven to erase those disappointments over the next two years.
“I would trade anything I’ve done individually for more success for our team,” she claimed.
Fussell will be playing for a new head coach in the coming season as Karen Aston of North Texas was hired after the unexpected resignation of Gail Goestenkors back in the spring.
She admitted she had some uncertainty with the change in program leadership initially, saying, “I wasn’t sure I would stay,” and was admittedly fond of Goestenkors.
Fussell claimed she has grown fond of Aston’s “in-your-face, demanding style,” and is responding to the new mentor’s focus on “making shots at clutch time.”
“I like the fact that she challenges you to get better every day,” the player said. “Some people don’t really like that style or approach, but I do.”
A health promotion major, Fussell returned home in the spring for a four-week visit and will return again in August after getting in a couple of summer term classroom sessions.
In between and during that time, she’ll continue to hone her skills, eyeing the highest of team prizes while doing so.
“I want to win a conference championship and a national title and be an All-American,” she concluded.
It doesn’t get any bigger than that.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at mhutch@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 6.29.12

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