Terae Briggs has to pinch herself sometimes. Next year, the 6-foot-3 athlete will represent Native Americans on college basketball’s largest stage: NCAA Division I, where she will play for the University of Nevada Wolfpack. She hails from the small Crow Reservation town of Pryor, Montana, with a population of 600, and will be playing in front of more than 1,500 fans per night.
The Wolfpack have posted Briggs’ athletic profile to their team website more than a month in advance of her joining the team, which includes sophomore MorningRose Tobey (Assiniboine Sioux).
It’s quite the leap for a 19-year-old baller. Her program, United Tribes Technical College, was brought into the ESPN spotlight when the men’s team played four overtimes Feb. 26, finishing with just two players. Now, she is the next highlight from Tribes, as she was the driving force behind the school’s first-ever trip to the national tournament.
During her freshman season, Briggs earned the NJCAA Region XIII tournament’ MVP with averages of 22.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game.
Not long after the season ended, Nevada started calling. The Wolfpack coaching staff was eager to sign the lengthy forward, telling her they’d go through every hoop to help her gain eligibility. She is currently listed as one of three on the team. “They did so much for me, so I got excited to go there,” Briggs says.
Briggs, who came from Plenty Coups High School, can dribble well, post up and use her wingspan to bring in rebounds on both ends of the floor. Wolfpack head coach Jane Albright, who is finding success with Native players, says her new recruit will be a significant part of a team that plays a fast-paced game. “She will be a post presence for us offensively and defensively,” Albright said in a press release. ”We are very excited to add her to our team for next season and anticipate her growing into a dominant post player.”
Back home, in Pryor, a whole town has lit up because of the news. They’re seeing a woman raised in their community get a step closer to a WNBA dream. “They really are very happy for me. They already are trying to have me help them start up like a basketball camp for kids.”
Now, Native youth will be able to look to Briggs as a role model. “It’s just really special. I never really thought I would be in this situation.”
Cary Rosenbaum (Colville) is a correspondent and columnist for ICTMN. He can be contacted via Twitter: @caryrosenbaum