Midland University and Megan Kucks have been a pretty good fit for each other.
Kucks has helped the women’s basketball team enjoy success. On Wednesday night she became just the 32nd player in school history to eclipse 1,000 points. Last season, the Elkhorn South graduate earned All-Great Plains Athletic Conference second-team honors.
While Kucks has been an asset for Midland athletics, the school has also helped her grow as a student-athlete.
“These four years have gone fast,” Kucks said. “It has definitely been interesting and has pushed me outside my comfort zone. When I came here my freshman year, I didn’t talk very much. I was very timid and shy so the basketball program and all the different areas on campus have helped me get out of my shell.”
Kucks is averaging 8.7 points and a team-best 3 assists per game for the Lady Warriors, who enter Saturday afternoon’s GPAC game against Dordt at 6-6. She is one of two senior starters for Coach Shawn Gilbert.
“In high school, I hated to play against her because she was the best player on her team and it wasn’t fun to face her,” said Joelle Overkamp, who is the other senior starter and became the 31st member of MU’s career 1,000-point club last season.
Overkamp, who played prep ball at Omaha Gross, became a teammate of Kucks on an Omaha Sports Academy summer squad. Both were recruited by Gilbert and eventually chose Midland.
“I didn’t like playing against her, but it was nice to become friends and teammates through OSA,” Overkamp said. “We both decided to come to Midland and room together.”
Overkamp said Kucks has earned the respect of her teammates.
“She is definitely the type that leads by example,” the guard-forward said. “The younger players look up to her and show her a lot of respect because she has been around for four years and is a big contributor. When she says something, they respect what she is talking about because they know she isn’t rambling about something she doesn’t know.”
After appearing in every game as a freshman during MU’s 11-19 season, Kucks became a full-time starter as a sophomore. That season the Lady Warriors slipped to 7-22, but they rebounded to 15-15 last season.
“We would’ve loved to have done better than we did last year, but it showed improvement and also that all of the hard work we were putting in was making an impact,” Kucks said. “It was a good stepping stone for the program.”
Kucks did her part by averaging 14.3 points per game (second on the team behind Overkamp’s 16.9 ppg.) The Midland teammates were third and sixth, respectively, in scoring in the GPAC. Both captured league honors with Overkamp earning first-team recognition.
“I got a lot of help from my teammates,” Kucks said. “That’s why it (All-GPAC honors) meant a lot because I couldn’t do it without all of them.”
While Overkamp is leading the Lady Warriors in scoring again (15.8 ppg.), junior college transfer Maddie Egr (12.8) and West Point sophomore Amanda Hansen (11.1) have also evolved into offensive threats.
Kucks is comfortable helping the Lady Warriors to success in any way possible.
“I think I’ve developed more into a leadership role as a senior with a lot of younger players playing a lot for us,” she said. “It is important to let them know that I’m always there for them and I trust them completely. ... Amanda has stepped up and Maddie, too, to give us big points. We’ve needed that and it takes away pressure from me and Joelle.”
While the Lady Warriors have multiple scoring threats this season, Overkamp said Kucks is still someone the team looks to when the game is in crunch time.
“We definitely look to Megan at end-of-game situations,” she said. “She can put the ball on floor or she can pull up and shoot because she does have good outside range. She can be hard to guard because (opponents) don’t know if she is going to that basket or if we’re setting her up to get a jumpshot.”
Kucks also has a bright future away from basketball. She is majoring in biology with minors in chemistry and psychology. She plans on attending graduate school to become a physician’s assistant.
First, however, she wants to help Midland have a memorable 2017-18 season.
The Lady Warriors showed what they are capable of Wednesday night when they jumped to a 32-6 first-quarter lead against Briar Cliff before losing 88-79.
“I think this team can be really good,” Kucks said. “Our goal is the national tournament and I think we showed everyone what we can do in that first quarter the other night. We just have to get more consistent and fine-tune some things. I think we have big potential and I’m excited to see where this season takes us.”