Women’s college basketball: Kat Tudor’s long road back

Oregon State guard Kat Tudor, a Lodi native and St. Mary's graduate, watches a shot in January of 2018. Tudor, a 3-point sharpshooter, tore her ACL part way through the 2018-19 season.

Kat Tudor is enjoying her days at home with her family.

The Woodbridge native, a 6-foot senior guard on the Oregon State women’s basketball team, has been busy on another road regarding an injury she sustained earlier this year. In August, the 2016 St. Mary’s High graduate and her Oregon State teammates will be taking a trip of a lifetime.

“I came home for a couple of days before I go back to Corvallis for practices,” Tudor said. “Visiting my grandparents, working out on my own ... just getting back to where I need to be.”

In 13 games during the 2018-19 season, Tudor, attending Oregon State on a full-ride scholarship, was averaging 12.3 points per game. She had 13 assists, and averaged 4 rebounds per game. Tudor had hit five 3-pointers twice last December.

Other numbers Tudor hit was making four 3-pointers against Duke, also last December, and scoring 24 points against LaSalle. Oregon State finished its season at 26-8 (14-4 in the Pac-12). In the NCAA Tournament in March, the Beavers chewed up Boise State and Gonzaga. Then Louisville ended Oregon State’s season in the third round.

But Tudor watched all that happen from the bench. On Jan. 4 in the Pac-12 opener against Washington State, Tudor suffered a complete tear of her anterior cruciate ligament, commonly known as an ACL, in her left knee. She also had two meniscus tears in the same knee.

“I was playing defense on a girl; she shot it and missed it off the rim,” recalled Tudor. “I jumped up for the rebound and came down on it wrong; it went inward. It just popped and it was out.”

The injury seemed minor initially, Tudor originally thought.

“At first, I thought I just dislocated my knee,” Tudor said. “It popped twice; it was like pop, pop. I didn’t cry, but it did hurt. It was a very bad pain.”

Three weeks later, Tudor, who is a digital communications major, had surgery on her left knee. The swelling of her knee had to go down and the bone bruise needed time to shrink before doctors could perform the surgery, Tudor said. A hamstring graft was also conducted. Before the surgery, she was on crutches and not allowed to place any weight on the left knee.

“They didn’t know I tore my meniscus in two places,” Tudor said.

After the surgery, Tudor remained on crutches for an additional six weeks. The additional time on crutches also meant no pressure on her left knee.

“Worst case, I’m on crutches for six to eight weeks,” Tudor said.

That was the good news for the recovery time for her torn meniscus. But the ACL could take nine to 10 months for recovery. Tudor was also told the recovery could take as long as year.

Then came rehabilitation with daily physical therapy during and after the end of the 2018-19 season. Because of the meniscus repair, Tudor’s walking was almost non-existent.

“That kind of took a toll in my recovery,” Tudor said. “Usually after an ACL, you can walk for the next few days. But I couldn’t do that.”

Tudor went through core workouts; sitting on a table and raising her legs.

“I couldn’t do a whole bunch, but I was still working on my extension,” Tudor said. “I couldn’t bend my knee at 90 degrees.”

Then Tudor regained movement in her legs, and was walking on her own two feet.

Along with attending her classes during the spring semester, Tudor spent plenty of time going to physical therapy. She was also working out in the weight room three times a week and with a personal trainer two times a week.

Oregon State women’s basketball head coach Scot Rueck posted on Twitter on April 12, “It is inspiring to observe the courage, toughness, and grit demanded in the face of tough situations — especially when things go differently than you wanted or imagined. @kat_tudor provides an incredible example to ALL and brings out the best in everyone around her! #WeAreFamily.”

During the rehabilitation, the Division I student-athlete started looking at life in a different perspective.

“It was really rough at first,” Tudor said. “It was more like ‘why me?’ because I got hurt in the 13th game. It just made me realize that you can’t take any game for an advantage. Just play every game like it’s your last. That’s what I’m going to do more when I get back. I know God has a plan, and He did this for a reason.

“I’ve grown so much as a person,” Tudor continued. “I can help people through this, too, about this injury. It’s kind of cool in that way.”

Tudor has noticed the skills that are coming back.

“I can shoot, I just can’t cut,” Tudor said. “I’m not really sprinting, I’m jogging. I’ve been shooting 3s again. I’m in the gym every day, working on ball handling or just spot shooting with a shooting machine.”

In the final 21 games she missed, Tudor had to watch her Oregon State teammates from the bench.

“That was tough, but it was fun to see them doing well,” Tudor said. “Rising up from a fallen player. They busted their butts every day.”

That 13th game put her over the NCAA’s limit for obtaining a medical redshirt, which is 10 games. However, she is looking into obtaining an extra year of eligibility. If granted, Tudor would play the 2020-21 season. She hopes to find out before the end of the 2019-20 school year, if not sooner.

“I’m still fighting that right now,” Tudor said.

In August, Tudor and the Oregon State women’s basketball team will be traveling to Italy to play four exhibition games against international teams. Although not expected not to be medically cleared at that time, Tudor will still make the trip with her Beaver teammates.

“Oh, that’s going to be so fun,” said Tudor, as her voice rose in excitement. “I know we’re going to Rome, Florence, Venice, Lake Como.”

A college degree, and hearing the magical words of when she can be medically cleared to playing collegiate basketball for, at least, one more season, is what is on Tudor’s mind at this time. She’s also taking two online classes for the summer semester.

“I’m trying to get my mind right first,” Tudor said. “Trying to get my confidence back. I’m just trying to stay positive through it. Taking it day by day.”

Tudor shows signs of a star on the rise. During her sophomore year at Oregon State, Tudor was named to the all-Pac-12 honorable mention list. She started in all 34 games, she averaged 11.9 points per game, had 36 assists and 4.5 rebounds. She knocked down 89 3-pointers and had a career-high 138 triples, which puts her seventh in the Oregon State women’s basketball history. As a freshman during the 2016-17 season, Tudor averaged 4.9 points per game and had 22 assists.

Contact Mike Bush at mikeb@lodinews.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.

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