The Loyola women’s basketball season is in full swing and the Ramblers’ sole new transfer — senior guard Bre Hampton-Bey — has proven herself as a strong addition to the Loyola team.
The Toledo, Ohio native made her Loyola debut in the Ramblers’ home opener win against Purdue University Northwest Dec. 18. She’s played in every game since and is averaging 8.7 points per game — the third-highest mark on the team.
Hampton-Bey was named Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Newcomer of the Week after Loyola faced off against Central Michigan University Dec. 21. In her second appearance as a Rambler, she added 12 points off the bench along with five rebounds and two assists.
The 22-year old transferred to Loyola after playing three years at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. At UMass, she put up a career-high 31 points against Virginia Commonwealth University Jan. 21, 2018 and was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team that same year.
However, the decision to transfer to Loyola was an easy one, according to Hampton-Bey.
“I felt like Loyola was the perfect fit for me,” she said. “It’s closer to home, I knew someone on the team and I was really connecting well with Coach Kate [Achter] and the rest of the coaching staff. I just felt like it would be a new start for me.”
Hampton-Bey became immediately eligible after the NCAA announced it was relaxing its transfer rules due to COVID-19. This ruling is an effort to maximize student-athlete flexibility during the pandemic, according to the NCAA’s press release.
After the game against Purdue Northwest, Loyola head coach Kate Achter said she was “thrilled” with the recent NCAA ruling. Achter said Hampton-Bey had applied for an individual waiver before the NCAA’s announcement came and had been practicing in anticipation of gaining eligibility.
“That was just an energizing moment,” Achter said about Hampton-Bey’s debut. “She’s been a part of what we’ve done here for the past five months and when you ask someone to practice without knowing if they’re ever going to compete this year, that’s a pretty selfless thing.”
Playing alongside Hampton-Bey is sophomore guard Jala Johnson. The two grew up playing together in their hometown of Toledo, including on their high school team at Notre Dame Academy.
Growing up, Johnson said that she and Hampton-Bey were very competitive and didn’t get along very well. However, that changed since they’ve been reunited at Loyola.
“We had the same views and we were both very competitive,” Johnson said. “Now that we’re older, I think we both realized we don’t have to hate each other. We can be competitive and still love each other like a sister.”
During her time at Notre Dame Academy, Hampton-Bey led the team to two state championships in 2015 and 2017 and earned MVP honors during her second appearance in the tournament. She was also named as a member of the All-Ohio First Team in 2016 and 2017 and Three Rivers Athletic Conference (TRAC) Player of the Year during her senior season.
Johnson said that throughout her time playing with her both in high school and at Loyola, Hampton-Bey has always been a leader.
“I mean, Bre is always going to be Bre,” Johnson said. “But she’s grown and she knows what she wants. I’ve learned a lot from that. She’s a very good leader and I’ve always looked up to her.”
Hampton-Bey’s competitive edge has shown itself on the court this season, including during the Ramblers’ 53-39 victory over Valparaiso University Jan. 19. Hampton-Bey finished with a game-high 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting to go along with seven rebounds, leading Achter to call her the “ultimate competitor.”
“I think that Bre’s competitiveness and energy set the tone for the whole game for us,” Achter said. “Those shots that Bre missed, those are shots that are going to [fall] for her eventually.”
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life for collegiate athletics everywhere, and Loyola was no exception. However, Hampton-Bey said she’s still lucky to be able to play this season.
“We’ve been really trying to stay together and trust the process,” Hampton-Bey said. “It really shows on the court how we’ve been taking everything really seriously. Hopefully, we can continue to do that and I believe that we will.”
Hampton-Bey said there are quite a few differences that have come with playing during a pandemic. However, she said she’s finding ways to connect with her new teammates even though the team isn’t able to spend as much time together due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’ll text each other or do groups of three hang-outs,” Hampton-Bey said. “But once we’re on the bus, we’re always connecting, that’s better than anything we can do. We just appreciate the moments that we are with each other.”
Hampton-Bey’s role as a teammate and leader both on and off the court has not gone unnoticed by Achter.
“She’s just an unbelievable teammate,” Achter said. “Her teammates trust her, and that’s awesome for as little time as we’ve actually been on the floor together.”
When she’s not playing for Loyola, Hampton-Bey can be found studying sociology, though she said she has plans to switch to the School of Communication to focus on advertising and public relations. After graduating, Hampton-Bey said she hopes to start her own business to pursue her other interests including fashion, photography and real estate.
As for her goals for this season, Hampton-Bey said she’s hoping to receive the title of MVC Newcomer of the Year and appreciate every opportunity she has to play.
“I’d like to just take advantage and appreciate every game that we’re allowed to have,” Hampton-Bey said. “Because of COVID, you never know if you’re going to play the next game. [I’d like to] never take any of them for granted and just give it my all in every game.”