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A few hours after getting NCAA waiver, Bison transfer Deaton made a difference on court

North Dakota State sophomore was planning on spending season as a redshirt

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North Dakota State's Kadie Deaton attacks the basket against North Dakota during their women's basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 16, in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
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FARGO — Christmas is on Dec. 25 like every other year, but for Kadie Deaton, the holiday season started about 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 16. On Wednesday. That’s when the North Dakota State women’s basketball player found out the NCAA waived the one-year, sit-out rule for Division I transfers.

The kicker was she had an hour to mentally prepare herself to play against the University of North Dakota later that night.

“It was insane,” Deaton said, after the Bison defeated UND 74-67 in overtime. “I wasn’t even expecting to play tonight. I was just glad I was able to warm up and put on a uniform.”

The Northern Colorado transfer from Wausau, Wis., not only put on a uniform, but made major contributions in NDSU’s rally from double-digit deficits. Her jumper in the lane 20 seconds into overtime gave the Bison their first lead of the game.

The 5-foot-11 wing was part of a defensive-minded lineup in the fourth quarter that held the Fighting Hawks enough for the Bison to eventually tie it on two Reneya Hopkins free throws with 14 seconds remaining.

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“I don’t know if we would have won the game without her,” said NDSU head coach Jory Collins. “We didn’t plan on playing her that much, wanted to get her in at the start of the second quarter just to get her feet wet a little bit, but she actually brought some energy in the fourth quarter and probably wouldn’t have won it without her and Reneya.”

Deaton admitted to “a lot of jitters” in the second quarter.

“But after that, I was like, I’ve literally played this game for so many years and this is not an issue,” she said. “The second half came back in flow ‘just like that.’”

Deaton ended up playing 14 minutes and finished with six points on two field goals and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. Her plus/minus statistic (number of points NDSU scored against UND while she was on the floor) was a plus-13, which was third on the team.

The day’s timeline started with NDSU senior associate athletic director for compliance, Colleen Heimstead, who texted Collins around 4 p.m. that Deaton was immediately eligible. The NCAA cited the uncertainty of COVID-19 as the main reason.

Collins said he was fairly certain the NCAA would pass the legislation at some point on Wednesday, but wasn’t sure when he would find out.

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“We told her to get ready this week like you were playing,” he said.

The last time she played in a game was Jan. 4 when Northern Colorado played at the University of Montana. That was all of one minute. She played 29 minutes and led her team in scoring two days earlier at Montana State.

“What I went through was a lot and I really thought I had a good chance of getting this waiver,” Deaton said, without getting into specifics. “I thought I had a decent case in what I went through.”

That was a few months ago when she first applied, and was denied. NDSU made a couple of other unsuccessful efforts and Deaton began this season fully expecting to redshirt.

“I was mentally prepared to have a good year for me to get stronger in the weight room, work out, get dialed in and be ready for next year and have three more years,” she said.

She’ll still have three more years at NDSU since this year doesn’t count against any player’s eligibility. In high school at Wausau West, she was ranked the 58th best point guard and 183rd overall in the country by ESPN recruiting. She averaged 19.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists her senior year.

The connection to NDSU was through Collins, who as an assistant at Kansas two years ago recruited Deaton.

“It turns out I’m at the best place ever with coaches who supported me and did everything in their power,” Deaton said. “Honestly, it turned out to work in its favor. I’m so grateful to be in an environment like this.”

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Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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