Coach Destinee Rogers didn’t want her team scouting Louisiana-Monroe on Sunday.
It wasn’t because Arkansas State’s women’s basketball team didn’t need to prep for the Warhawks. But they’d already done that a few days earlier — only for their game postponed from Thursday to Monday because of a leaky roof.
But when the Red Wolves walked into their team meeting, there was still a scouting report to go over. It was just on themselves.
Rogers went through clips of each ASU player, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses from recent games.
When she got to Lauryn Pendleton, there was plenty of praise for the rookie.
“I said [she’s] one of the top freshmen in the Sun Belt Conference when she has the confidence,” Rogers said this week.
The Little Rock native has been a relatively consistent offensive presence in her debut ASU season, averaging 10.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game while shooting nearly 40% from the field. Pendleton’s scoring has been needed in recent weeks since Keya Patton’s season-ending ACL injury — she’s scored in double figures in each of ASU’s past five games.
But it took a meeting with Rogers to get the freshman guard back on track after a string of four games in which she scored 24 combined points and hit one three-pointer.
“She was just telling me to be confident in myself and trust my game,” Pendleton said.
There was no lack of confidence when Pendleton’s her first game at ASU. She scored a game-high 19 points in the season-opener versus Central Baptist College, then scored 15 at Oklahoma three days later.
Former ASU coach Matt Daniel first got in touch with the Little Rock Central product in the summer of 2020. When Pendleton met virtually with Daniel and the rest of ASU’s coaching staff that July, she was offered a scholarship on the spot.
A few hours later, Pendleton called them back. Her recruitment was over, and she was Jonesboro-bound.
“They just had a great plan in place for me to win,” Pendleton said of her college decision. “I just really want to win a ring when I’m in college and this is the place where I can win one — maybe a couple.”
The University of Arkansas-Little Rock never got a crack at the hometown product, despite Pendleton living a two-minute drive from the Trojans’ Jack Stephens Center. On Saturday afternoon, she’ll come home with hopes of helping the Red Wolves to their first-ever win in that building.
She expects to have somewhere between 15 and 20 family members in attendance, not to mention several former high-school teammates and Little Rock Central Coach Marlon Williams.
Williams, who had never met Pendleton before he was hired as the Tigers’ head coach in July 2020, credited the 5-9 guard for Central’s development.
While the Tigers no longer have Pendleton to rely on, she practiced with them through the spring.
She remains a presence for the Tigers, constantly texting with them in their group chats and imparting wisdom from a distance.
“Lauryn is just somebody that needs an opportunity,” Williams said. “As coaches, we can preach [hard work] … but it’s nice to know one of your peers can obtain those goals right in front of your eyes.”