PROVO — It's extraordinary for any first-year player to start at the collegiate level, but in the case of Caitlyn Alldredge, her progression toward a starting role reaches new heights.
As the BYU women's basketball team prepares for the West Coast Conference Tournament, it does so with Alldredge taking the starting role in BYU's frontcourt. The 5-foot-10 forward's 2.1 points scored per game this season won't jump off the page to anyone, but her numbers don't come close to telling her story and what she means to the team.
"What it shows is that it's not the scholarship. It's what you do on the court," said Jeff Judkins about what Alldredge has accomplished this season. "It's how you perform when the coaches and the team needs you and she's done that. She's made a big difference."
Alldredge decided to try out for the basketball team after having used up all her eligibility playing for the Cougar softball team over the past four years. She proved an integral part of those softball teams, playing at third base while being named the 2017 West Coast Conference Player of the Year.
Knowing she needed another year to graduate from BYU upon completion of her softball eligibility, she decided to give basketball a try, and tried out with expectations not even close to what she's realized.
"I knew I could get on the team and then just probably just play on the practice squad and scout team. I just wanted to have fun and help out however I could," Alldredge said. "But then getting rostered and now starting — it's just a huge blessing and something I really didn't expect when trying out."
Judkins didn't have any expectations either, although he was impressed with Alldredge's softball resume, knowing how much it takes to excel at that sport.
"I heard she really had interest in being on the team, so she went to our workouts and I could see that, 'hey, this girl's pretty good,'" Judkins recalled. "...Did I know she'd be starting now? No... But her energy and toughness has really contributed to our team."
Alldredge didn't start immediately and it wasn't until midway through WCC play when she served any type of notice to fans and to media, entering the last seconds of BYU's big 70-68 home win over Gonzaga back on Jan. 17. She was asked to defend the Bulldogs' top player in a potential game-tying situation and performed exactly as expected, with the Cougars coming away with the unexpected win.
Since then she's steadily increased her playing time up to the point where Judkins called on her to start when the Cougars took on Pacific on the tail-end of a three-game losing streak back on Feb. 9. She played just 14 minutes that game, but made enough of an impact to help the team snap the losing skid and get back on its winning ways.1 comment on this story
Alldredge has started every game since, with the Cougars never losing with her in the starting lineup.
"It took a while to get back to where I really felt comfortable out there, but fortunately coaches trust me out there to really help the team, and that's really all I wanted to do this one year playing," Alldredge said. "I put my whole heart into playing softball and I'm now doing the same for this team. It's so fun ... Everybody is so focused and ready to win, so jumping into that has really been a huge blessing for me. I'm just so thankful for this opportunity."