Chase Coley scores from the perimeter as well as in the post. She has shot about 50 percent for her high school career.
Anyone who has seen Chase Coley play basketball knows that she is an unusual athlete. Her dad and coach at Mpls. Washburn, Tylor Coley, called her “a skinny 6-3 post” during a recent conversation, while Chase said that she sees herself as “a long, lanky guard.”
“I like to find open teammates. If I’m doing well, I know the defense is going to key on me, and I like to find my teammates. I can post up, but I like being on the perimeter more.”
In three years at Washburn, she has increased her scoring from 10 points per game to 18 to 21 and her rebounds from 5 to 7 to 8.
But if Chase is anything, it is a natural-born shot-blocker with a quick and long first step that enables her to come out of the post and block shots all the way out to the 3-point line. Her blocks have gone from 4 to 7 and then to 9. According to the MSHSL, Chase has Minnesota’s top two seasons with 255 and 216 blocks, as well as the record for a single game with 21, and that came against a solid opponent in Hutchinson in 2012.
Also impressive is Chase’s assist totals, which have increased from 1 to 3 to 6—that would be Chase’s “inner guard” expressing herself. And her steals have increased from 1 to 4 to 5.
Coach Coley said that he knew Chase would be “something special” “right out of the womb.” Tylor was a 6-5 2 guard in college and Chase’s mom was Kelli Jo Behrens, who played for the Minnesota Gophers after being runner-up for Ms. Basketball Minnesota out of St. Charles High School.
“I always wanted to play in college,” Chase said, “because my parents did. That was always the goal. My freshman year I started getting better, but sophomore year I really got the drive and really started to love basketball. Getting better, it’s so much more fun, playing better, it gets more intense. I really started to love basketball in my sophomore year.”
But like most tall teens, Chase knows that she has room for improvement. “I want to make sure that I play good defense,” she said, “that I have quick feet. I want to be strong enough to guard the post, but then quick enough to switch out on to the 3. I want to be able to put on some good pressure even on the perimeter. I want to be a good defender.”
She’s also working on her toughness. She’s in the weight room three days a week, Tylor said, and it shows. She played for the North Tartan Nike Elites this part summer.
“ (Tartan coach) Gerard (Coury) pushed me a lot. He would say, ‘Chase, the only way we’ll win this game is if you get tough, you need to get tough right now, you need to show some heart….' He pushed me and Tonoia (Wade) a lot in practice, we’d have to go against each other. And Sam Trammel is really strong, I had to guard her in practice. We all did our part, and my part was to get tough.”
Chase started getting letters from college recruiters after her freshman year, but those were mostly smaller schools, mid-majors. A year later, she started to hear from some bigger schools, though she visited Lehigh, St. Joseph’s and some Chicago schools around that time.
But by the end of her junior year, she had pretty much decided on Iowa. “There were other schools I was interested in, but after while there was a pretty large gap. If I hadn’t been able to go to Iowa, I would have been pretty bummed,” Chase said.
Why is that? “I liked the coaching staff, they’ve been together for a long time and they’re super-nice. I met a few other girls and I really liked the vibes I got from them. They have really good values and good intentions. I fit with them really well, it was comfortable. Those are the kind of people I want to play with.”
Chase also had an offer from the Minnesota Gophers, “but the campus is ten minutes from my house,” she said, “and I kind of wanted to get away from home a little bit.”
What advice would Chase offer to a younger girl who might want to play college ball. “Hard work pays off,” she said, “and the only thing that makes you better is you have to want to get better…. And you have to love basketball. If I didn’t love it I wouldn’t play in college because it’s a big commitment.”