Freshman Jenn DeBoer progressing quickly for GVSU women’s hoops

GVL / Luke Holmes - Jenn DeBoer (4) posts up to shoot. GVSU Womens Basketball lost to Truman State 69-74 on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016.

Luke Holmes

GVL / Luke Holmes – Jenn DeBoer (4) posts up to shoot. GVSU Women’s Basketball lost to Truman State 69-74 on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016.

Josh Peick

Down the stretch in an eventual loss to Northwood, the Grand Valley State women’s basketball team needed to find a rhythm on offense. Assistant coach Phil Sayers drew up a couple of plays during timeouts in order to try to find that rhythm. The plays were not for one of the seven seniors on the team to take the shot, but instead intended for freshman Jenn DeBoer.

DeBoer, a point guard from Grand Rapids South Christian High School, acclimated quickly with the college level game, making an immediate impact on the team. In her first game against Quincy, DeBoer scored 11 points in 14 minutes on the court.

“I knew that stepping into the college level was going to be so much faster, so much different than high school,” DeBoer said. “That gave me confidence knowing that I can do it.”

In recent weeks, an emphasis of the Lakers’ game plan has been to get the starters more rest and, in turn, DeBoer is one of the main beneficiaries of more time on the court.

In the past two weeks, she has played over 15 minutes in three games and reached double-digit point margins twice in that span. It is no accident DeBoer is receiving time on the court so quickly in her collegiate career because she is not afraid of the big moment.

“The biggest thing for a freshman is to have composure,” said senior point guard Janae Langs. “I know my freshmen year I was shaking in my shoes, not that she isn’t, but she puts her game face on really well.”

DeBoer is not afraid of the spotlight—in high school, she played in two state championship games in her sophomore and senior years. She is a player who is not afraid of the spotlight.

Her high school experience is not the only factor that got her to this point. Since arriving in Allendale, DeBoer has worked tirelessly in the gym under two senior guards like Langs and Taylor Lutz.

“It’s really inspiring to me,” DeBoer said. “I see them, and they work so hard. Going up against them in practice every day, that makes me so much better.”

While she works hard on the court, DeBoer works just as hard off the court. She is a natural student of the game, and her recent subject is Washington guard Kelsey Plum.

Plum is the nation’s leading scorer at the Division I level and recently became the first player in PAC-12 history to score 3,000 career points.

“Here’s a kid who is hunting me down to get film to watch (Plum’s) game from Sunday night because she couldn’t watch it,” Sayers said. “(DeBoer is) just a kid who wants to be the best. Anything you throw at the kid, she just reps it until it’s darn near perfect.”

With the combination of hard work and more playing time, DeBoer is only getting more confident with the ball in her hands.

“Knowing that when I’m on the floor, my teammates are confident in me as well,” DeBoer said. “Before I was a little hesitant, because I was new and I had to get to know playing with them.”

DeBoer inherited a tough situation in her first year. While being behind to senior guards is great experience, it limits the amount of opportunities to receive playing time. DeBoer cashed in on her early opportunities and is now much more than a reserve that gives the starters a quick break.

“I try to be spark off the bench when I get in,” DeBoer said. “I have always been a 3-point shooter. I definitely look to shoot the three, but lately I have been working hard to attack the basket more.”

She has even run the offense when she is in the game, a right reserved to few players on the team, let alone a freshman.

“Total confidence in her,” Sayers said. “It’s a matter of her acting like an upperclassman point guard rather than a freshman. I told her ‘you’re not a freshman anymore.’”