Following her great basketball career at Heritage High School in Littleton, Lauren Huggins couldn't wait to play for the Colorado Buffaloes.
Then, she barely got any court time before a stress fracture put an end to her freshman season.
Nearly a year later, Huggins is eager for a re-start as she and the No. 19 Buffaloes visit Colorado State on Tuesday night in the season opener.
Ironically, Huggins' last game was against CSU, and it was also her best game. She scored six points and grabbed three rebounds in 17 minutes against the Rams on Dec. 5. That was one of just five games in which she appeared.
Huggins was later granted a medical hardship, allowing her to regain that year of eligibility.
A 6-foot-1 guard/forward, Huggins is hoping to take full advantage of that. She's already off to a good start. She followed up her solid preseason practices with a 15-point, two-steal effort against the Colorado School of Mines in an exhibition game on Nov. 2. She drained five of nine 3-point attempts.
"It was good to be out there running around again with my teammates," she said. "It felt good. I was just grateful to put my jersey back on again and warm up with the team and then be able to get in and play some minutes."
Huggins is already showing signs that she can be a valuable asset to the Buffs. A year ago, she had trouble passing CU's fitness test. That delayed her debut a couple of games.
This year, fitness is no concern, as she spent the offseason diligently working with strength coach Chris Sheckler.
"I came in very prepared for the preseason and I was able to knock out all of our fitness tests," Huggins said. "It was just night and day (from last year), and I think the coaches have seen that as well."
CU head coach Linda Lappe has been impressed with Huggins to this point.
"Lauren has done some really good things (in practice)," Lappe said. "She's doing some things on the offensive end and is getting better defensively everyday."
Huggins loves to shoot, especially from 3-point range, but knows Lappe stresses defense and that her skill on defense "is going to play a big factor on whether or not I'm able to get out on the floor."
When Huggins is on the floor, the Buffs figure to get a nice spark on offense.
Although hurt last year, she was able to work on her form, and feels she's shooting the ball better than ever. She takes countless shots on a daily basis.
"Sometimes I come back after we do homework and set up the gun and just shoot until my arms hurt," she said. "I have to be able to step up and make shots when I'm tired."
Whether she's playing defense or hitting shots, Huggins is excited to be healthy again, and she hopes to be a major contributor to the Buffs.
"Yeah, I'm 100 percent," she said. "I feel ready to go."