WALLA WALLA - Talk to Walla Walla Community College women's basketball coach Bobbi Hazeltine and it's obvious Shiann Dreadfulwater was a large part of the success Warrior basketball had in 2010-11.
The Warriors finished last season as the runners-up in the NWAACC Championships with a season record of 22-7, and during that run, Dreadfulwater averaged 11.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while hitting 40 percent of her shots as a sophomore.
"She was our leading scorer, so (she played) a big role," Hazeltine said. "She was a starter, she was a captain, our leading scorer, our best defender, so she was a lot of stuff for us - she played a really big role."
Now Dreadfulwater has moved on - but not very far.
After much consideration, she decided to take her talents from WWCC to the campus of Whitman College, all of three miles to the west.
The transition from a junior college to a four-year college like Whitman can be a sink-or-swim moment for many students, and many sink.
So how is Dreadfulwater doing with Whitman?
Let's just say swimmingly.
Although she has only averaged 3.5 points per game through her first six games, and where once she was getting A's, she is now getting B's, Dreadfulwater has made a good first impression on the Missionaries.
Whitman coach Michelle Ferenz has nothing but good things to say about the 5-foot-8 guard.
"I think she's doing pretty well," Ferenz said. "She's kind of hard on herself - I think she's doing great. There's always an adjustment period any time you make a change, and that's (adjusting) what she's been doing.
"She's doing fine," she said. "I know she wants to be doing better than she is, but she's going to get there, she's going to be fine."
And although Dreadfulwater, who originally hails from Grangeville, Idaho, is not playing as significant a role in the offense as she did at WWCC, she is happy with her role on the team.
"I've always been really good at being a role player, so I know how to back someone up," she said. "Playing with (Whitman senior guard) Jenele Peterson, I know she can handle the offensive end, so I back her up on the defensive end.
"It's not really about offense, it's about doing what the teams meeds," she said.
But Dreadfulwater isn't just a strong athlete. Academics are just as important to her as success on the court.
"I've always been about getting good grades and having a well-rounded base," she said. "Whitman is the most challenging thing I've ever been in, so just getting through this program is great because I'll know that I can conquer whatever I want to, because I conquered Whitman academics."
Whitman, ranked the 42nd best liberal arts college in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, is nothing if not academically challenging.
The average Whitmanite carries a 3.85 GPA out of high school and scored a 2020 on the combined SAT, and Whitman only accepted 53.7 percent of its applicants in 2011. A full 67 percent of admitted students were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes.
"Whitman is not for everybody," coach Ferenz said. "When we recruit, we find a lot of kids that are good at basketball but aren't good enough academically.
"You also have to have a work ethic," she said, "but Shiann has been doing great - she's adjusted well."
So despite the rarefied air in which Dreadfulwater finds herself, she is succeeding.
"The transition has been a little hard academically," she said. "I'm at a B average right now, but that's going to be different next semester. Nothing but straight A's next semester!"
"It's (going from WWCC to Whitman) an adjustment," Ferenz said. "I'm glad to hear she's getting B's because that's a success. I think it could be a whole lot worse.
"I never have any hesitation recruiting one of Bobbi's (Hazeltine) kids because I know they're going to be ready. Shiann is a great fit."
Dreadfulwater is majoring in Biology, with a goal of eventually becoming a physical therapist.
On the court, Dreadfulwater has not only had to adapt to bigger, stronger athletes, but a new scheme and new coaching style as well.
She said redshirt senior Anna Forge, along with other returning players, has been helping her make that transition.
"It's nice when you're starting to learn the program (to have more experienced players) because you need to learn the structure and learn where you need to be at," Dreadfulwater said. "Having Jenele Peterson and Anna Forge is really nice because they will tell you where you need to be and grow with you. I'm so ready to go right now.
"It's still basketball, and so it's something I've always done and always loved," she said. "The program I'm in now, the people have known the program longer so you can look to the leaders. Having that leadership is nice because I can flow into the program without trying to take over right away."
Forge, who first became friends with Dreadfulwater on the team's trip through Massachusetts, said she has enjoyed helping Dreadfulwater make that change.
"It's been really easy to help integrate Shiann because she's great," Forge said. "She's just really eager to learn and it's been a really good transition.
"She's (Dreadfulwater) been put in a tough spot because she was supposed to be a shooting guard or a wing and she's been running the offense as a point guard sometimes," Forge said. "Whenever she's asking a question on the floor she's always smiling. It's easy to get discouraged, but she never does - it's really great."
Dreadfulwater isn't the first WWCC player to make the leap to Whitman. Two other Warriors (Madee Romero in 2001 and Laura Sprague in 2006) transferred to Whitman in recent years, and part of that is due to the stress Hazeltine puts on academics at WWCC and the relationship she has built with Ferenz.
"I love it when Michelle (Ferenz) is looking at our kids," Hazeltine said. "I have some girls who are here now who really like it in Walla Walla, and she's recruiting them. It kind of puts them at ease, and I know that they are going to a good program.
"It's the whole package at Whitman, and we stress academics here (at WWCC)," Hazeltine said. "The majority of my kids become eligible and so that's comforting."
"I told her (Ferenz) at the beginning of the year (2010-11) that I had a guard (Dreadfulwater) who she would really like," Hazeltine said. "Because you obviously have to be pretty good at academics to go to Whitman, and I knew she (Dreadfulwater) could cut it, that's the first thing I mentioned.
"Michelle was consistent and that's important for a player," Hazeltine continued. "Michelle was always in our gym and watching her play."
Whitman was never a slam dunk to get Dreadfulwater; she began to get attention from other colleges after a strong performance in the NWAACC tournament last season and she visited a few of them, but ultimately Whitman provided the right mix of academics and athletics for her.
"To me, it was an obvious fit because Walla Walla is only three hours from Grangeville, so her parents can see her play and academically it's a perfect fit," Hazeltine said. "I think deep down we both knew Whitman was a really good fit for her. She just wanted to see some other schools, too, so she could make an informed choice. But ultimately she chose Whitman, which was a good choice for her."
Part of the difficulty Whitman faced when recruiting Dreadfulwater - and other athletes as well - was not only its stringent academic requirements, but also the fact that Whitman is not allowed to give out academic scholarships because it is a NCAA Division III school.
Tuition alone at Whitman has increased 23 percent from four years ago to more than $40,000 per year, and Dreadfulwater admitted she had hoped to cover some of her tuition with a scholarship from basketball.
"I have always leaned towards the academics and I didn't want to have debt, but then Whitman came and they don't offer scholarships, so that kind of blind-sided me," Dreadfulwater said. "But I figure as a PT (physical therapist) I'll make money in a few yeas, and it (being able to play basketball at Whitman) was nice, too, because I wasn't ready to stop playing.
"I got quite a few scholarships, work study and my parents are helping me," she said. "We made it work out."
Basketball, as well as academics, have always been a big part of Dreadfulwater's family life.
Her sister Allie Dreadfulwater played hoops for Hazeltine at WWCC before injuries forced the elder Dreadfulwater to end her basketball career.
"I've learned so much from her (Allie), she's just amazing," Shiann said. "She's just brilliant. So having that role model just made me want to do so much more and be so much more because I was always competing with her."
Dreadfulwater has two older sisters and two younger brothers who all play, or have played, basketball. Her father attends every one of her home games.
Although Dreadfulwater hasn't made a huge dent on the stat sheet - other than averaging nearly 20 minutes a night - Ferenz said she expects Dreadfulwater to grow into her role on the team as the season progresses.
"Shiann has tons of potential and room for improvement, and she is getting better every day," Ferenz said. "Shiann is going to help us in all those departments (depth, ball handling, etc), and that's why we were so excited to get her."
"She's going to be very important in the second half of the season and she knows that," Ferenz said.
Work ethic is what makes Dreadfulwater successful and valuable, Ferenz said.
"She works hard every day and isn't just interested in glory for herself, she just wants to help the team succeed," Ferenz said. "You can't have too many of those."