Borislava Hristova— the pride of the Bulgarian resort city of Varna— is fifth in the Pac-12 in scoring, averaging 16.9 points per game.
The next-closest Cougar – senior Mariah Cooks – is a full 10 points back at 6.9 per game.
“Her level of play is something I’ve never seen before,” says Cooks. “She doesn’t play like a freshman … She brings a very special piece to our team.”
Hristova’s scoring prowess earned her the nickname “Bobi Buckets” early in the season from assistant coach Ashley Gill. The "buckets" part of that is obvious. As for the "Bobi" it's a common shortening of the name Borislava in Bulgaria.
The moniker caught on so quickly that WSU’s sports information department even references "Bobi Buckets" in its weekly game notes.
Hristova is first on the team in field goal accuracy (46 percent), free throw shooting (90 percent) and minutes played (26.5 per game). She’s hit double-digits in 20 of 23 games and already holds the all-time WSU freshman record for 20-point games, with eight.
With six regular-season games left and at least one Pac-12 Tournament game to be played, she needs just 71 points to pass Lia Galdeira as the greatest freshman scorer in WSU history.
But Hristova is more than scoring. She’s also third on the team in steals (28), fourth in assists (34) and fourth in rebounding (3.7 per game).
And while she has a ways to go to match the fearless bravado that Tia Presley and Galdeira brought to crunch time, she hasn’t shied from taking the shot when the game is on the line. And the 12-11/3-9 CouGals have played a ton of nail biters this season.
“After one of our games this year, I texted her saying ‘good job taking those last shots’ even though she missed them, but of course she responded with ‘but I should’ve finished the game,’” Daugherty said.
“She’s extremely passionate about basketball.”
You’ll get no argument on that from Hristova.
“I hate to lose,” the 6-foot forward tells Cougfan.com.
“And I don’t feel good when I don’t give my best. Even if I play good, I’m not happy. I can do more and more and more."
Basketball in the U.S. is “stronger, faster, more athletic” than in Europe, Hristova says.
Her smooth transition to the more physical American game is due in part to the fact her various experiences in the European Championships for Bulgarian national teams pitted her against older players, Daugherty notes.
HOW HRISTOVA MADE HER WAY FROM the Black Sea to the Palouse River is a testament to the times in which we live.
“Technology now allows us to see players early on. You can watch film on YouTube, it’s incredible,” says Daugherty. “Her stats, talent and midrange game stood out early. Not many players have a mid-range game anymore, but Bobi’s is excellent.”
Hristova is not the only globetrotter on the Cougar squad. Seven countries are represented on the roster, along with five different U.S. states. Daugherty calls her team as the “United Nations of Basketball.”
Indeed, the Cougars have five players from Europe—Hristova, Bianca Blanaru (Romania), Ivana Kmetovska (Macedonia), Maria Kostourkova (Portugal) and Pinelopi Pavlopoulou (Greece)—compared to six for the rest of the Pac-12 combined. And of the league’s six Australians, two of them – Louise Brown and Krystle McKenzie – are Cougs.
HRISTOVA SAYS MASTERING THE ENGLISH language has been the biggest adjustment to college life.
“I really like all my classes, but they can be difficult to understand,” says the sports management major. “It’s not too hard, but I have to write in English, which makes me nervous.”
Being surrounded by “awesome people” makes her feel at home in Pullman, she said. And the winter weather on the Palouse is about the same as back home, so the cooler temps are just right by her.
Hristova’s personality also has helped her make the transition, says Cooks.
“She’s very funny, likes to prank everyone—well, not me, she knows who to and who not to prank,” Cooks said. “She’s one of the nicest people I know ….”
She really enjoys her teammates, adds Daugherty. She’ll invite them over to bake … “she’s just such a sweet person.”
NEXT UP: The Cougars play at UCLA Friday at 7 p.m. (live stream via UCLA) and at USC Sunday at 4 p.m (Pac-12 Networks).
WSU's all-time top 5 freshman scorers:
1. Lia Galdeira, 459 points 2012-13
2. Jazmin Perkins, 413 points, 2008-09
3. April Cook, 405 points, 2008-09
4. Kristal Stahl, 404 points, 1988-89
5. BORISLAVA HRISTOVA, 389 points and counting, 2015-16