With dazzling passes and remarkable accuracy from three-point range, senior guard April McDivitt makes her presence felt every time she steps onto the court. Midway through her first season as a starting guard at Santa Barbara, McDivitt has been everything the Gauchos hoped she would be.
McDivitt hails from Connersville, Ind., a small town in a state famous for its basketball. As a senior at Connersville High School, McDivitt was a Second-Team All-American and holds school records for career points (1,908), assists (441), steals (387) and three-point field goals (206).
“It’s really cool to be a part of Hoosier tradition,” McDivitt said. “It’s amazing how many people support you and care about what you’re doing and get behind you, especially in a small town.”
After her outstanding high school career, McDivitt attended University of Tennessee, one of the most highly decorated women’s basketball programs in the nation. While at Tennessee, McDivitt was coached by Basketball Hall-of-Famer Pat Summit and was a part of the Volunteers’ 2001-02 team that lost in the Final Four to eventual national champion the University of Connecticut. While playing for Summit was rewarding for McDivitt, it was also tough.
“In one word, I would say it was ‘intense,'” McDivitt said. “I learned a lot while I was there; learning about the game and growing as a person, I matured. To be really honest, it was hard a lot of the time and she’s hardest on her point guards. But I learned from that experience, and I’m thankful for it.”
But after three seasons at Tennessee, McDivitt felt it was time for a change. Luckily for Santa Barbara, her faith and passion for basketball drove her west.
“I had no clue what a Gaucho was a couple years into Tennessee. I wasn’t thinking about transferring until after my junior year,” McDivitt said. “I took a step back and took a look at things and the reason why I played basketball, and my perspective changed. A lot of it goes back to my faith. I accepted Christ my freshman year at Tennessee and the reason why I played eventually changed. So as I was looking at schools to go to, I decided to transfer.”
McDivitt worked at a basketball camp in Santa Barbara the previous summer and, after hitting it off with the girls and the coaching staff, felt that UCSB was the right place for her.
“It really was a perfect fit for me for every single aspect out of what I wanted in my last years of college,” McDivitt said. “With the great faith in the community, my relationship with Christ has been huge and people around me believe that. To live that out was a huge reason why I came here, probably the number one reason. Secondly, I wanted to fit in basketball-wise. I wanted to fit into their style. I was a point guard still and it helped that there were two point guards graduating the year I was coming in. It was a good fit all around.”
In her first season as a starter, McDivitt has made an immediate impact on the Gauchos. The senior is averaging 7.8 points and 4.3 assists per game. She also has converted 31 three-pointers – the best on the team – for a .392 percentage from behind the arc. But McDivitt’s real value comes in the intangibles she brings to the Gauchos.
“As a point guard I bring leadership and experience and hopefully a fire,” McDivitt said. “I think that on any team the point guard sets the tone for the rest of the team and they follow after that. It’s a lot of responsibility, but I love doing it.”
The crowd has embraced McDivitt, and the intensity in the stands has helped her on the court.
“I totally feed off the crowd. It’s so fun to play when you’re in the Thunderdome because it’s loud, and the other team can’t hear; it’s a great time to be a Gaucho,” McDivitt said. “I love seeing all the little kids just to see all the other future Gauchos in the stands. I was there once; it’s cool to be in the position I am in.”
Santa Barbara hopes that with McDivitt’s leadership at the point, it can finally advance beyond the second round in the NCAA Tournament.
“Top to bottom, talent-wise we have the talent, and it’s just a matter of putting the effort and intensity and having those be habits,” McDivitt said. “They have to be habits in March, and you just have to have it. It’s a really cool position that we’re in because all of the top 10 teams have lost to unranked teams; its anyone’s game this year.”