Ashlen Dewart spent two seasons on Appalachian State's women's basketball team before transferring to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga last summer.
The Mountaineers' leading scorer as a freshman and sophomore, the 6-foot-3 forward is happy with her decision to transfer. Still, sitting out this season hasn't been easy for a player with career averages of 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds a game.
"It's been really hard to sit on the sidelines, especially for big games," Dewart said. "I made myself realize that I still have two years to play and a year to grow and become a better player. I've tried to be really positive about it."
She will be stuck on the bench again tonight when the Lady Mocs (20-8, 15-4) wrap up the regular season against the Southern Conference-leading Mountaineers (23-4, 17-2) at McKenzie Arena.
An All-SoCon player last season who helped ASU capture the SoCon regular-season title, ending UTC's streak of 11 in a row, Dewart still has a deep connection with some of her former teammates and classmates, and to Boone, N.C.
"I still have an apartment there that I'm still paying for," she said with a sour laugh. "I signed a 12-month lease, so that's been fun paying for that. ... It was a great apartment, probably 20 feet from the gym."
Dewart is the younger sister of former UTC player Bailey Dewart, who was unable to play as a senior this season because of chronic knee issues. The sisters went head to head last season - Bailey didn't play the year before due to injury - with App State winning both games
At Appalachian State, Dewart was going to share her apartment with Courtney Freeman, who is the older sister of Lady Mocs freshman Kayla Freeman. The Mountaineers beat UTC 62-51 in Boone on Jan. 21. Dewart drove up for the game on her own - as a transfer she's not allowed to travel with the team.
"I got to see a lot of alumni that I was close to and overall the people there are great people and I knew that they would be fine and welcoming," she said. "Some people didn't really talk to me, but I wasn't expecting them to."
Dewart's new team can play something of a spoiler role with a win against her old team tonight. Appalachian State has secured at least a share of the SoCon regular-season title, but can clinch it outright with a win.
If UTC wins and Davidson beats Samford, ASU and Davidson would share the title. The Lady Mocs are locked into the No. 3 seed in next week's SoCon tournament in Asheville, N.C.