Is Katie Cezat the best women’s athlete to ever put on a Charger uniform?
The last two years say maybe, her entire career says no (sorry, there’s a reason she had just ONE block her first two seasons), but what took place Tuesday evening might just hint to a “yes”.
The question is entirely open for debate, but what’s not is the fact Cezat was officially named the Female Michigan College Athlete of the Year by the Detroit Athletic Club.
Cezat is the first athlete, male or female, from the GLIAC conference to earn the award.
She put up almost unfathomable averages of 29.3 points and 16.8 rebounds per game this season, leading her team to a 29-3 record and national ranking as high as No. 3, while garnering National Player of the Year honors.
Although several key Charger players were stricken with the flu at the most inopportune time earlier this season, as Hillsdale lost its first-round NCAA tournament game on a devastating buzzer-beater, this season will certainly stick out in the mind of Charger head coach Claudett Charney for years to come, based on her comments in an article by the Jackson Citizen Patriot’s Mike Pryson.
“This might be a once-in-a-lifetime player for me as a coach,” Charney said. “It’s been just a wonderful year.”She’s just a great person and a great student. I just can’t say enough about her.”
Despite the lofty status Cezat has attained, it appears her basketball career may be coming to a quick halt. In a March 3 feature article published by the Detroit Free Press Cezat said she had aspirations of making a run at the WNBA, saying no level of competition was too good for her to possibly be in the mix for a roster spot, but it seems as if reality and a college degree have given her new perspective.
Cezat has already lined up a job with an accounting firm in Southfield, and she seems to be ready to put basketball in a proverbial scrapbook — either that, or basketball is just moving on without her.
“I’m ready to start working. I want to go into the business world. I’ve been playing basketball since I was in kindergarten,” she said in the Cit-Pat article.
Charney said Cezat has had “an offer from a European team” to continue her career and several “feelers” from WNBA teams, but all that says to me it that while Cezat was a phenomenal D-II talent, with a work ethic and wonderful grasp of the fundamentals to boot, she isn’t as transcendent as people want to make her out to be.
The GLIAC didn’t showcase a whole lot of height this season and there’s a good reason very few D-II athletes make it as professionals in any sport — because there are thousands upon thousand of athletes working just as hard, who may be blessed with just a little more natural talent.
If Cezat was maybe 6-2 or 6-3 (which is how she played at times to be honest) her phone may be blowing up, but she’s not exceptionally quick for her size and she has a tendency to force things when they aren’t going her way at times, although she remained level-headed for the most part in 2009.
What I wonder though, is if Cezat was getting so much praise and having so much success when the Free Press of all people came to visit, that she just continued to pen her own fairy-tale in her mind because it was all setting up so perfectly. It was almost as if the world was her oyster and the WNBA was the next landing pad, because that’s where hard work and gaudy numbers would be taking her.
In my honest opinion, I agree with Charney that she is a once-in-a-generation kind of player at the GLIAC level and she made me shake my head in disbelief probably a dozen times this season. But I think Tuesday’s award was the perfect final seal to a wonderful, record-setting setting season and if her legacy is only that she will be remembered as one of the best things to ever happen to a small, off-the-map county in Southeastern Michigan, that’s not such a bad thing.
On one final note, here’s a list of some of the records and accolades she’s brought in the past six months.
• Set single-season school records for points (908), rebounds (521), blocked shots (100), field goals made (333), free throws made (237), field goals attempted (600), free throws attempted (290), scoring average (29.3), and rebounding average (16.8).
• Holds single-game school records for points (42), rebounds (28), blockeds (13), field goals (15), free throws (18), free throws attempted (23).
• Blocked more shots this season (100) than the old school record for career blocks (94).
• Only player in the nation with more than 100 blocks and 100 assists this season.
• Set Division II record for most double-doubles in a season (28). Second in Division II history with 18 consecutive double-doubles.
• Tied for fourth-most points in a season in Division II history (908); second-most rebounds in a season in Division II history (521).
• Most blocked shots in a game in Division II this decade (13 at Ferris State, Dec. 13, 2008).
• Named GLIAC South Division Player of the Week 11 times.
• 2008-09 GLIAC Player of the Year and Tournament MVP
• 2008-09 Daktronics Regional Player of the Year
• 2008-09 WBCA Division II National Player of the Year
• 2008-09 Daktronics Player of the Year
• 2008-09 DII Bulletin Women’s Basketball Player of the Year
• Named the female Michigan College Athlete of the Year by the Detroit Athletic
The entire DAC awards ceremony will be broadcast on WDIV, channel 4 in Detroit, at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 23. Comcast will then re-broadcast the event through its On Demand service throughout Michigan during the months of June and July.