Less than two and a half months after being diagnosed with leukemia, the Seattle Christian senior, McDonald's All-American and UW recruit was back on the court and playing at a high level.
SEATAC — Few players can measure up to Katie Collier.
Not just because she stands 6 feet 3. Not just because she has incredible touch on her 15-foot jumpers, or because she’s a tenacious defender with matchless mental toughness.
Katie Collier stood head and shoulders above others this season in large part because she played basketball at all. Less than two and a half months after being diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), she was back on the court for her senior season at Seattle Christian High School.
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Collier played 18 games while undergoing rounds of chemotherapy that often left her nauseated and unable to feel her legs. She averaged more than 16 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in leading the Warriors to the Class 1A regionals, often despite two or three defenders draped on her.
And there’s no way to put a number on the size of her courage.
Collier is The Seattle Times’ girls State Player of the Year.
“With all she went through this year, and the way she carried herself, she is truly amazing,” coach Dave Jansen said. “She is so much more than just a basketball player.”
But this was no sympathy selection.
“I would hate that,” she said.
Collier, who took her final full dose of chemotherapy just last Friday, is ranked among the nation’s top 25 senior recruits by ESPN.com and will play in the exclusive McDonald’s All-American Game this month. She spurned programs such as Duke, North Carolina and Maryland in committing to play for Washington.
A four-year starter, she became Seattle Christian’s all-time leading scorer this season.
She’s good, really good. It’s something Damian Young realized when he began coaching her in his Tree of Hope program the spring before her eighth-grade year. After only two tournaments, she had beaten out the seniors-to-be for a starting spot and held her own against All-Americans.
The unselfish Collier never put up eye-popping point totals, even when healthy. And she estimates she only reached about 70 percent of full health this season. Some games, it was more like 45-50 percent.
Young called Collier more mentally tough than any player he has been around, and praised her leadership qualities. Just 18, she has shown remarkable maturity throughout her ordeal.
“She’s handled it with such grace and such inner strength,” said her mother, Ann, herself a four-year cancer survivor. “I had no idea she was so strong, and she never complains.”
After missing eight of the Warriors’ first 12 games, she played in all the rest. Once, she cut a chemo session a little short, arrived in the locker room in time for Jansen’s pregame speech, then went out and played. Another time, after playing the entire fourth quarter, she collapsed in the locker room, overheated and dehydrated.
After one game, an opposing player came up to her in tears and told her it had been an honor to play against her.
Collier said she has been touched by the outpouring of support she has received and would go through everything again if it meant inspiring one more person.
Sandy Ringer: 206-718-1512 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Girls Player of Year|
|C||Katie Collier||Seattle Christian||6-3||Sr.|
|McDonald’s All-American, UW commit was impressive despite regular chemo treatments.|
|All-State First Team|
|F||Brittany McPhee||Mount Rainier (Des Moines)||5-11||So.|
|State’s top young prospect averaged more than 22 points, 11 rebounds.|
|Phenomenal athlete scores, rebounds, blocks shots; will play hoops, volleyball at Idaho.|
|Had 33 points, 12 rebounds in 2A state championship game; headed to Oregon State.|
|G||Heather Corral||Prairie (Brush Prairie)||6-1||Sr.|
|Best is yet to come for gifted UW commit who capped injury-riddled career with 3A title.|
|G/F||Brooke Bowen||Skyview (Vancouver)||5-10||Sr.|
|Played her way onto 4A all-tournament first team, leading Storm to first state title.|
|All-State Second Team|
|G||Khadidja Toure||Kamiakin (Kennewick)||5-9||Sr.|
|A terror at both ends of court, she keyed Braves’ 23-0 start; will play at Oregon State.|
|G/F||Brooke Gallaway||Central Valley (Spokane)||5-9||Sr.|
|No. 2 all-time scorer for storied program nearly took Bears back to the top in 4A.|
|G||Brooke Pahukoa||Lake Stevens||5-9||Jr.|
|Crafty player did it all for 22-2 team that just missed returning to 4A quarterfinals.|
|G||Taylor Peacocke||Inglemoor (Kenmore)||5-9||Sr.|
|Averaged more than 18 points in career; will play basketball, softball at Sacramento St.|
|G||Rachel Staudacher||Cedar Park Christian (Bothell)||6-1||Sr.|
|Montana getting versatile player who averaged more than 20 points again.|
|Girls Coach of Year|
|Jasen Thomas, Franklin|
|After sub-.500 season in 2010-11, he guided Quakers (24-4) to 3A final for only third time.|