Terae Briggs works hard, plays hard, in pursuit of post-college basketball dreams

Thursday, March 7, 2019
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Photo courtesy of University of Nevada, Reno

Terae Briggs, a senior at University of Nevada, Reno, takes a shot during a December 2018 Lady Wolves game against Texas Tech. Briggs will graduate this spring and hopes to play basketball overseas.

The close-knit community of Pryor, where Terae Briggs spent her childhood, has roughly 600 residents – about 3 percent of the total enrollment of at the University of Nevada, Reno, where Briggs is completing her senior year.

“I had to learn how to be away from home,” the 2015 Plenty Coups High School graduate said of her experience at the university. “Being away made me grow as a person. I got to have my own personal space and live my life.”

Briggs, a starting forward for the UNR Lady Wolves, has also grown as a Division I basketball player.

“She’s learned how to work hard,” Lady Wolves Head Coach Amanda Levens said. “On the court, she’s so consistent. She’s a player that we can depend on.”

Levens said Briggs has put in a great senior season. At press time, she had nine double-doubles, the third-most in the Mountain West Conference. Briggs currently ranks 11th in the league in scoring, fifth in rebounding, fifth in field goal percentage, fourth in defensive rebounds and is sixth in offensive rebounds, according to the Lady Wolves website.

“This season, we could count on her to have a double-double almost every game,” Levens said. “She has a feel for the game that was there before we ever coached her.”

This season, Levens hoped to help elevate Briggs’ game because she wants to play after she graduates.

“She has ambitions to play post-college, so we’ve worked to help get her the type of senior season she needs in order to do that,” Levens said. “There are a lot of paths to success; Terae had a unique path that goes to show people that they can be successful no matter what.”

Briggs, a third-generation college student, began her journey began at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck. N.D. in the fall of 2015. Since then, she has developed as a player.

A quiet observer, Briggs likes to get a feel for a situation before she jumps into it, she said. Going to United Tribes gave her a sense of what college would be like. When she was recruited to UNR, she blossomed as a player.

She said over the last three years she’s expanded her range, taken more chances shooting 3-pointers, learned new post moves, and grown as a leader and a more aggressive defender. According to Briggs, she is roughly 60 points shy of scoring 1,000 points in her three-year career at UNR.

“She never gave up and she never took this for granted,” Briggs’ cousin Savannah Sinquah said. “In high school, we knew she was talented, but she was never in the paper. She didn’t let that discourage her.”

Sinquah said Briggs was never really recognized until after she won the Most Valuable Player award at the 2016 NJCAA Division II Women’s National Championship Tournament. She was also named on the NJCAA Division II Women’s Basketball All-American Second Team that same year.

“After that, she blew up. We were praying and praying that she would be recruited, and when she was, we were so excited,” Sinquah said. “The thing that gives us the most pride is when we watch her on TV and the sportscasters say, ‘She’s from Pryor, Montana.’”

Briggs said she hopes to secure an agent, and eventually play basketball overseas and explore the world outside of the United States, but added she will come back to help families in need.

“Go and explore the world. The rez and your home will always be there,” Briggs said. “Once you explore, you can go back home.”

Briggs said she was looking through the majors at her new school and nothing stood out, until one of her teammates suggested Human Development and Family Studies.

“I was raised by my grandparents and I wanted to help other kids in that situation,” Briggs said.

She’s always been drawn to helping others; in fact, her work-study job at UTTC was watching kids, and she took care of her niece and nephew when she was a teen.

Her helping nature came through even as a basketball player, Levens said.

“She’s a good friend to her teammates,” she said. “She’s an older player and is someone they can go to if they need to talk. She’s a nice, kind-hearted person.”

“They trusted me,” Briggs added. “I’m more approachable than other seniors.”

Briggs is known for being coachable, a trait she’s seen many talented athletes forget embrace.

“You see some players and you can just tell they will struggle later in life,” Briggs said. “If kids aren’t coachable, they won’t get far in life. It starts at a young age.”

Although Briggs has a lot planned after graduation this spring, her first step will be to come back home for a long visit.

“I miss Montana,” Briggs said. “I miss Baáhpuuo (Pryor).”

Brigg and the Lady Wolves’ last conference game is tonight against San Diego State in San Diego.