For three years, Sabrina Lozada-Cabbage was kind of like the little sister among the Wichita State Shockers.
“I was always that younger person,” she said. “Last year, we graduated eight seniors. I was always following their lead.”
It is kind of hard to think of the 6-foot, 2-inch Lozada-Cabbage as anybody’s little sister, and that all changed this season for the former Santa Fe High School star as Wichita State now has seven true freshmen.
“I’ve taken some of the girls under my wing,” she said. “Lead by example. Now that it’s been placed on me, I tried to do the same. Always give a good attitude and effort in practice, on and off the court, be respectful, be a good example.”
And after a pause, “And have a lot of patience.”
Lozada-Cabbage led the 2014 Demonettes to the Class 4A state championship as a junior, with 13.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. When she blew out her knee that off-season, however, any chance of a Santa Fe repeat was gone, particularly since the Demonettes were jumping to 6A.
But Wichita State honored its commitment to her and Lozada-Cabbage remained loyal to the school when it switched coaches before her junior season.
“I didn’t recruit her, but through the transition she’s helped in every way that I’ve ever asked,” Keitha Adams told Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita State Strategic Communications Department. “Her being supportive of me, I’m going to always appreciate that. Not everybody buys in.”
But for Lozada-Cabbage, that was the whole idea of going so far away for college.
“I think my college experience, I’ve learned a lot,’ she said. “A lot has happened these last four years. I’ve grown as a basketball player and as a person. That’s what I came here for, to grow into somebody I wanted to be.”
She grew as a player, too. This year she leads the team in rebounding, at six per game, is second in scoring in 8.8 and leads the team in 3-point shooting percentage at .313.
Although the women Shockers have never emulated the men’s team with long and stirring charges through the NCAA Tournament – Wichita has never made it to the post season during Lozada-Cabbage’s career – there are highlights to remember, she said.
Probably chief among them was getting a chance to play the sport’s most dominant program, UConn, both home and away in the wide-ranging American Athletic Conference.
“When we played UConn at home this year, they beat us, but we had a big crowd of about 6,000 or 7,000,” she said. “That … was great. Last year, we went up there. That was definitely an experience that I’ll never forget. That whole atmosphere was amazing and I’ll never forget that.”
Starting out this season with a career-high 21 points in the opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff is also high on the list.
Lozada-Cabbage is on target to graduate in May with a degree in sports management. But her goal is to put off having to use the degree, at least for a little while.
“If I can continue to play, that’s something I want to try and do if I have the opportunity,” she said. “If I could, I’d like to play in Puerto Rico. I have a lot of family there. I could have played on the national team last year.”
A Shockers assistant coach is from Europe and helped two of her teammates from last season find places to play professionally overseas, she said, and Lozada-Cabbage hopes it works out for her, as well.
When her playing days are done, Lozada-Cabbage says she sees herself returning to Santa Fe and looking for something in the sports field.
“When I first started out, I wanted to be a physical therapist, but I changed because sports management is more about the behind-the-scenes of sports,” she said. “I wanted to stay in the sports industry whenever I’m done playing because it’s something I enjoy.”
Until then, Lozada-Cabbage will try to make the Shockers run in the AAC Tournament this weekend last as long as possible.
“At this point, it’s win or go home,” she said. “We’re just trying to play the best we can and hopefully get a couple more games and hopefully do our best to keep going.”