Individual awards early in her career aren't going to faze Sophomore Destiny Pitts, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Pitts prefers to give most of the credit for the award to her teammates, among whom she is known more popularly by her last name, which doubles as her nickname.
“It wasn’t really an award for me. It was kind of an award for my teammates because they helped me since I stepped on campus to feel comfortable and feel a part of the team,” Pitts said. “I praise them a lot because they were a big part in why I was successful. ... They never left me hanging."
Last year, Pitts set a University of Minnesota freshman record by scoring 90 3-pointers while maintaining the team's fourth-highest scoring average with 13.3 points per game. Appearing in every game and starting in the last 30 games of the season, she also made her presence known on the glass by averaging a team-leading 7.2 rebounds a game.
This season, she will look to expand her game by becoming more of a defensive presence and developing a mid-range game — she wants to be a force on both ends of the floor.
“I’m always wanting to learn and improve upon my game, so I’m kind of a perfectionist in that area. I don’t really like making too many mistakes, and when I do I, want to know what I could have done better,” Pitts said.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Pitts said she chose the Gophers one year ago because the University spoke to her as a home away from home. Now, head coach Lindsay Whalen said she sees the promise of a budding superstar in Pitts. On Monday, Pitts and teammate Kenisha Bell earned recognition by being named to the media's preseason All-Big Ten Team. On Tuesday, Pitts was added to the preseason watchlist for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, which is awarded to the nation's top shooting guard.
“Obviously, those two had big years last year and impacted the conference with their hard work and what they were able to do," Whalen said when she reflected on their recent accolades. "It goes to show what they were able to do."
While Pitts was able to achieve success in her first season, she does not feel content after the season ended in a 101-73 loss to Oregon in the NCAA Tournament's second round. She wants to help her team go deeper into the postseason and dreams of winning Minnesota’s first Big Ten Women’s Basketball Championship.
The Gophers' season opener will be against New Hampshire on Nov. 9, in a sold-out Williams Arena.