By Susan Harman
IOWA CITY, Iowa – It took Illinois State coach Kristen Gillespie about a nanosecond to get into talking about junior guard Mary Crompton. “Mary Crompton is a coach’s dream come true,” the coach said. “I’m not sure there is a better ambassador for Illinois State University. She is the epitome of a student athlete.”
Gillespie was just getting warmed up as she talked about the former Regina all-stater and current starter for the Redbirds.
“Mary is the type of young woman that when we were recruiting her, it was us and Ivy League schools, and the big thing we had to overcome is would she be able to achieve all of her academic goals at Illinois State, and she believed in us, and it’s been so much fun because every goal that Mary has set for herself, she’s achieved already” the coach said.
“She graduated in three years with a perfect 4.0 in biology. She’s already started her Master’s in biology. She took the MCAT in September, scored in the 90th percentile. She’s uncommon in every way, shape, and form.
“Her drive to be the best, I have never been around a player with her drive. It is what has made her from a 5’7″ and a half, 110-pound kid coming out of Iowa City to one of the best guards in the (Missouri) Valley. She was just a shooter out of high school. She has made herself into so much more, and I am the luckiest coach in America to be able to coach Mary Crompton.”
Crompton is the Missouri Valley Conference scholar-athlete of the year and was just named one of just 16 Academic All-Americans. A redshirt junior, Crompton averages 9.4 points and has made 71 3-point shot. She is third on Illinois State’s all-time 3-pointers list with 211. Last season she shot an other-worldly .467 on her 3-point attempts. This year she’s at .374 beyond the arc. She also plays the second-most minutes on the team.
Crompton assessed her progress in college.
“I feel like I’m a really completely different person than I was coming into this program,” she said. “Just physically I’ve really focused on getting stronger. I came in a pretty weak link for college basketball, so that’s been a focus of mine, and then the program is just extremely good at skill development, so just working with position coaches on developing my game, being more than just a 3-point shooter.
“Definitely my defense (is also a focus), but outside of basketball I think I’ve just matured a lot as a person, understand everything that goes into being a college athlete, have a great mindset on it. I’m really thankful for the opportunity. I think just since being a freshman I’ve just gained a lot of maturity.”