STILLWATER — Sitting in the front row of the baseline bleachers inside Gallagher-Iba Arena earlier this week, Andrea Riley perks up when Roshunda Johnson takes the ball for a 1-on-1 drill.
The Oklahoma State freshman guard gets by her defender and to the hole, but the layup doesn't fall.
“That's a good move!” Riley shouts while springing to her feet. “But you gotta finish!”
Passing along that type of wisdom is becoming more common around these parts, as Riley has, in a sense, come home. After sustaining a serious knee injury while playing pro ball in Poland last fall, the Cowgirls' all-time leading scorer is now rehabbing in Stillwater.
And the timing is perfect, as Riley will have her jersey retired during Sunday's Bedlam matchup against Oklahoma.
“This is where I really found myself,” Riley said of why she returned to Stillwater. “This is where I grew up and I matured and I busted my butt.”
Riley tore her anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in her right knee in October and first started rehabbing in Dallas.
But she realized she was starving for the more structured college training environment. More specifically, she longed for OSU, where she felt like she was in the best shape of her life and had the right support system in place.
“It's amazing how much my body went through here and how strong I was,” Riley said. “I was never injured. So to come back and to build my body from scratch again … I'm starting to feel a lot stronger.
“I just really thought that coming back here would help me in my confidence, my passion, my growth and building my body back to where it needs to be.”
So Riley signed a six-month lease in town. Her mornings are filled with rehab and afternoons with watching film, where she's hoping to get an outside perspective of the game and rediscover “what made me great.” By the summer, she hopes to be 100 percent healthy and ready to play again.