‘Going to be special’: Texas freshman Latasha Lattimore is flashing star potential after injuries, slow start

Amsal Madhani, Sports Reporter

In a season when Texas has relied on freshmen and sophomores to carry the load, one freshman has stood out in the lineup. Forward Latasha Lattimore flashed potential on the court in her limited playing time this season, and she’s just getting started.

Illnesses and injuries forced Lattimore to miss time in an up and down season. But when she’s been available, the 6-foot-4-inch freshman has stepped up in a big way for the Longhorns.

The forward is averaging near four points per game, along with three rebounds and almost one block a game. Although those stats may not be eye-catching, they don’t illustrate the extent of Lattimore’s talent.

Coming off a severe knee injury, it was yet to be seen whether Lattimore still possessed the athletic abilities that made her a highly ranked prospect coming out of high school. However, in her first game with Texas, all of the questions about her health and athleticism were answered almost immediately.

She serves as an anchor in the paint with her shot-blocking ability on the defensive end and her finishing skills around the rim on offense. Her most lethal attribute, however, isn’t either of those.

It’s Lattimore’s shooting ability that sets her apart from the rest.

“If (Lattimore) can turn it loose, she might make a mistake,” head coach Vic Schaefer said on Dec. 16. “But she can probably cover up two or three just with her athleticism … She can shoot it. The kid’s got a great shot, and you can’t get to her shoot. So she’s just one that needs more playing time and I think she’s gonna take off.”

Lattimore hasn’t been able to get much playing time in the second-half stretch of the season, but fully healthy, she can be a major factor for the team as the Longhorns head into the NCAA tournament.

So far fans have only seen glimpses of her sky-high potential, most recently on Jan. 19 against Iowa State. Lattimore put up a healthy stat line with six points on 2-3 shooting, along with three rebounds and two blocks.

Lattimore has the potential to be a dominant two-way player on both offense and defense. But when she began playing basketball, she was strictly a post player. Lattimore said she didn’t have the footwork, ball-handling ability or shooting ability to develop an outside game.

“As I got older and started to get better,” Lattimore said on the Hip Hop Hoops podcast on Jan. 10, “I noticed that at my height, I have speed, and I’m very athletic, and I was like ‘OK, if I can do both on both ends, not only on offense because everybody’s about offense, but on defense. If I can block shots, and if I can sit down and play defense on a guard sometimes, I know I’m capable of being a two-way player.”

There’s definitely more to come from Lattimore, and she has a lot more work to put in practice before Texas fans can see her true potential unleashed in the games. But with the progress she has already shown on the court, it wouldn’t shock her coach if she ends up being a star in college and potentially in the WNBA.

“Latasha is gonna be real good, y’all,” Schaefer said on Dec. 16. “She’s really going to be special.”