CU’s Lauren Huggins played just 30 minutes over five games last season because of an injury.
CU's Lauren Huggins played just 30 minutes over five games last season because of an injury. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )

Lauren Huggins certainly didn't envision her first season of college basketball to turn out like it did.

One of the state's top high school players a year ago at Littleton's Heritage High, Huggins came to Colorado with thoughts of being a major contributor for the Buffs.

She wound up missing nearly the entire season with a stress fracture in her right leg.

"It was disappointing, but I took that as, 'Let's use it to get better,'" Huggins said.

Nearly a month after CU's season came to a close in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Huggins is working her way back into playing shape and looking ahead to a re-do of her freshman year.

Currently, she has three years of eligibility remaining. She needs to apply to the NCAA to get this past year of eligibility back through a medical hardship. She won't know until possibly later this summer if she will get the year back.

"I feel great now," she said. "Since I was able to come back and do my limited reps in practice (late in the season) and continuing to just do rehab, I've been feeling great and looking forward to next season."

During the final weeks of the season, Huggins was able to participate in practices, although not at full strength. It wasn't until recently that she started going at full speed.

She played just 30 minutes over the course of five games early in the season. Aside from that, she spent the 32-game season watching her teammates.


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Teammate Arielle Roberson went through the same thing a year ago, missing her true freshman year with an injury. Huggins said Roberson told her it was beneficial to have a year to watch and learn.

"You learn a lot more by watching than actually doing," Huggins said. "Being able to sit and support my teammates and watch every little play that happens and be like, 'Oh they should cut there; they should do this,' and being able to articulate that to my teammates is helpful."

Huggins said she spent a good portion of the year watching sophomore guard Lexy Kresl, who plays the same position.

"I got to see what gets her open, what got her on the floor, as well as learning what it takes to be a good teammate," Huggins said.

In her brief time on the court, the 6-foot-2 Huggins showed she can be a threat from the outside. She hit four 3-pointers in those limited minutes. She also grabbed six rebounds and had three steals.

CU probably could have used her skills off the bench this past season, but the Buffs are hoping that a year of sitting out will ultimately make Huggins a better player.

"She's never had to sit on the bench," CU head coach Linda Lappe said. "When you (play all the time), you don't get to see a different part of the game. She'll be surprised at how much she actually learned. She'll know that when we start practice next year."

Huggins said it's too early to tell if she's a better player now, simply because she's just recently started to ease back into things, but she is grateful, in the long run, to have had the experience she did have this year.

"It's going to be very beneficial for me," she said.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.