Hampton Looks to Validate Preseason Honors

Playing alongside five fifth-year seniors, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle. While Keisha Hampton's experience may pale in comparison, and her influence understated because of her humble manners, her game speaks for itself.

This year that especially rings true as Hampton, a junior, was selected to the Preseason All-Big East team.

"It's definitely an honor to be picked All-Big East because it is, to me, you know, the best conference in the nation," said the Blue Demon's leading scorer from last season.

"I feel like I do still have to prove myself to prove that I am an All-Big East player, but I think I won't have too much of a problem this year."

Hampton was also named to the preseason Naismith Trophy watch list today, an award that goes to the nation's best college player.

Such accolades could certainly mount pressure, but Hampton is handling it cooly.

"I don't think it's added pressure because I know what I have to do as a player and I know what I want as a player and a team. I know what my goals are," Hampton stated. "No added pressure for me I just got to do what I've been doing."

All Hampton has been doing is starting every game since she was a freshman. On a team that has admittedly had its battles with injuries, Hampton has been an iron-woman thus far, playing -- and starting -- in 66 consecutive games entering the season.

"My whole goal was to go somewhere where I could play and coming in and playing for Coach Bruno, starting every game as a freshman, I definitely feel like I've experienced more," Keisha said. "Just having the chance to be on the court, you know, night in night out, getting a lot of playing time as a young player definitely helped my experience because I now know what it takes to be out there."

Averaging just over 10 points and four rebounds as a freshman en route to Big East All-Freshman team honors, she upped her numbers 14 and 5.1 per outing last season, earning selection to the All-Big East Second Team.

The City of Brotherly Love has a rich hoops history no doubt (her father actually played for the legendary John Chaney at Temple University), and Hampton, accordingly, is a product of that same environment.

"I can't say smooth, [but] more laid back type of players," Hampton said of Philly basketball. "I sometimes think we're too cool on the court.

"I think a lot of people from the east coast kind of play similar to each other because that's just how it is out there, there are parks all over the place. That's how you learn, that's how you play when you're young in Philly, in New York. There are parks on almost every corner, so when you're out there you pick up so many different things from so many different players."

"Ever since probably my freshman year of high school, I've been working out -- like actually been to actual workouts -- with Aggrey Sam and my coach Dave [Hargrove]. I think the fact that I worked out every Sunday with the guys, and myself and Dave prepared me for more things. They taught me things I think I wouldn't [have] learned on my own, I just learned from them just having me in the gym all the time."

Continuing with that work ethic, the Philadelphia native was hard at work this summer as she looked to tighten up on some things in preparation for the 2010-2011 campaign.

"Because I felt that I would be playing more guard position this year, I really tried to focus on getting my handle and my jumpshot together. Become more of a consistent ballhandler and jumpshooter because I know a lot of teams will play me to shoot. I just know how what's gonna be this year so I focused on improving upon those two aspects of my game."

So far the work seems to have paid off, as Hampton has picked up right where she left off last season: leading the team in scoring. In the Blue Demons' first two exhibition games, versus Northwood and Illinois Wesleyan, she has led the way with 23 and 12 points, respectively.

"I see myself having the same role as I had last year. Just doing anything coach needs me to do. It's rebounding, scoring, passing, defending. It's whatever I have to do for our team to be successful."

With an All-Big East selectee and so much veteran experience on one team, one might expect the Blue Demons to be picked among the nation's best to start the season. Such was not the case, however, as the Blue Demons were left out of the Top 25 (though they did receive some votes), and picked to finish sixth in the Big East. Hampton disagreed with those predictions and is eager to disprove them.

"I think, in my opinion, we should have been picked in the Top 25, just because of the experience that's coming back, but we can't look at it like that. We just gotta play, you know, hopefully play our way into it and prove that we deserve to be in there."

"[My expectations are] definitely to advance this year in the NCAA Tournament. My first and last year we made it to the tournament but lost in the first round, so I'm looking forward this year to advancing farther, Sweet 16 or farther than that."

Exhibition games now a thing of the past, Hampton will look to help lead the Blue Demons, proving that they -- and her -- belong among the nation's elite. The first step will come this Friday as DePaul takes on Valparaiso in the pre-season WNIT tournament in their first official game of the 2010-2011 season.

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