When Dyanna Prater was a senior at Gaithersburg High School in the spring of 2009, she figured her days of playing organized basketball were over.
She was content with not actively pursuing a collegiate athletic career, but things changed in May of that year.
“The coach from Hood [College] called,” she said during a phone interview last week. “I visited and liked the campus a lot and everything changed. ... I didn’t think I’d be here.”
Since then Prater, who has started every single one of her 92 college games (as of Sunday), has developed into one of the best women’s basketball players in Hood’s history. She became the program’s ninth player to score 1,000 career points on Jan. 23 and is among the school’s all-time leaders in several other statistical categories, including assists and steals.
“It’s kind of crazy,” said Prater, who is majoring in business management and plans to graduate in May. “I never thought I was going to start right away. ... I never expected I was going to score 1,000 points.”
She reached the milestone last month against Stevenson University with 11 minutes, 33 seconds remaining in the second half. With just three points remaining, she was fouled on a successful layup attempt and converted the ensuing free throw.
“I was so close and my [teammates] were whispering, ‘When you gonna get it?’” she said. “… I am grateful that I got it, but I never thought a big moment like that would be from a free throw.”
Second-year Hood coach Jack Mehl immediately recognized Prater’s ability and presence as a leader on and off the court when he took the job prior to last season.
“She was one of the kids I met with and as soon as I met her, I named her a captain,” he said. “... She’s just been a great and the face of the program.
“She doesn’t back down. She’s up in your face defensively and not afraid to take the ball to the hole.”
Prater, who has been coping with a knee injury all season, is averaging over 12 points per game.
Her most notable achievement, however, might have been when she was in high school and the subject “Made,” an MTV reality television show. During the program, she was transformed into a beauty queen from an athlete that never dressed up.
“I definitely still got comments,” Prater said. “Fans use it for heckling tactics and my teammates talk about it. It still amazes me that was junior year [of high school] and it [feels] like it was yesterday.”
The Blazers have struggled in recent years and are just 5-16 (3-11 Commonwealth Conference) this season, but Mehl, who says the team has performed well defensively, but lacks a go-to scorer, is optimistic for the future.
Prater, meanwhile, is entering the final stage of her playing career, but she will likely still be immersed in basketball as a coach since she is applying for one of Hood’s graduate assistant positions.
“The best thing about Hood is all the great people I’ve met and [the relationships] developed with coaches and players,” she said.