Fairbanks’ Ruthy Hebard shines with new Turkish team

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 7:33 PM AKST
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Those who watched standout Ruthy Hebard at her West Valley High School days in Fairbanks, Alaska, saw an athlete that dominated both the offensive and defensive sides of the floor and rarely stepped off the court for a breather. Hebard, who is spending her WNBA offseason in the Women’s Basketball Super League, is playing a similar role with Nesibe Aydin.

Through eight games, Nesibe Aydin boasts a 7-1 record with Hebard leading the team in multiple categories. The Fairbanks-native is one of the go-to scorers at 20.8 points per game on an efficient 57.6% shooting. No player on Nesibe Aydin hauls in more rebounds than Hebard, averaging 12.6 per game, 7 more rebounds than the next player. In a recent game, Hebard played all 40 minutes on the court without a substitution, akin to her high school days.

“Right now, my confidence is pretty high,” said Hebard over Zoom. “Hopefully I can go into the WNBA next year and keep that confidence. I think that was a big thing for me this year, my confidence was going up and down, but now I see myself playing against girls here that are super good, which is going to make everything else a little easier in practice and in games.”

After being selected 8th overall by the Chicago Sky in April’s WNBA Draft, Hebard was a strong contributor to the playoff-bound team. She averaged 5.7 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14.5 minutes of action.

Since arriving in Ankara, Turkey in September, Hebard is slowly getting accustomed to life in a foreign country. She has become familiarized with neighboring stores and has picked up a few Turkish phrases along the way. Hebard’s parents got a chance to visit her in Turkey recently, taking advantage of tourist activities such as checking out the sights and floating in a hot air balloon. With a 12-hour time difference from Turkey to Alaska and no family to cheer her on in the stands as in years past, Hebard is adjusting to life on the road.

“I was lucky and had my uncles, grandparents, all those people right there [at my games]. Even coming home from a game and everyone else is asleep, so you can’t even talk to your mom or something like that, so I think it has been hard,” said Hebard. “I think being able to stay up late or wake up early just to talk to my parents and friends and having the support group in Alaska that watches my games, and I get those little messages, those little things, just like, ‘okay, people are watching, people still care, still have my back’ and that makes me build myself back up.”

Nesibe Aydin is about 1/3 of the way through their season and will look to lean on Hebard for their continued success.

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