OTTUMWA — Ashley Salgado makes no bones about it. She wants to play women’s college basketball at the highest level.
Allison Lacy knows what it takes to make it to that level. Starting next season, she’ll be teaching those exceptional point guard skills to Salgado.
Ottumwa’s all-conference, all-everything point guard is headed to Marshalltown Community College to continue her basketball career. Salgado heads to the junior college program with an eye toward making it to a major four-year school in two years time.
Two years of guidance under Lacy, who was an all-Big 12 point guard at Iowa State, should certainly help that cause.
“I’m really excited. Allison Lacy’s got a big name around Iowa,” Salgado said of the second-year Marshalltown head coach. “I watched her coach and I really like her technique and everything she has to offer me.”
“A lot of coaches are going to be able to direct and tell you what to do. I think Coach Lacy can show me what to do. I think that’s going to do a lot more to help me.”
Salgado is heading for Marshalltown after earning all-CIML Metro Conference honors while being one of the most prolific point guards in Class 4A. The Ottumwa senior finished this past season with the most assists per game in the state with seven a game, second in Class 4A in total assists with 145 and the CIML’s leader in total steals.
Salgado could have joined Bulldog teammates Kelsey Nickerson, Rachel Hinebaugh, Avery Roane and Tara Gott in signing with several four-year schools. Instead, Salgado is looking to take a somewhat different path to chase down a lifelong goal.
“It’s always been my goal to play Division I basketball whether it came right out of high school or not,” Salgado said.
Ottumwa head girls basketball coach Kevin Patterson talked about Salgado’s choice to play at Marshalltown next season and learned from Lacy. The former four-year starter at Iowa State led the Cyclones to an ‘Elite Eight’ appearance in 2009 and won a WNBA championship in her rookie season with the Seattle Storm.
“I had a lot of great conversations with Coach Lacy. She’s trying to build a team around Ashley right now,” Patterson said. “I think it’s a good opportunity for Ashley to play two years there and see what kind of opportunities await her after that.”
“She gets the chance to learn from a WNBA-caliber guard and she’s going to get a chance to play right away. They’ve had a lot of turnover on their team and I think they’re going to look to her to run the offense.”
Salgado certainly doesn’t lack for experience having played all four years at the point for the Bulldogs. While growing into a more confident player in her first three seasons, it was her one year under Patterson where Salgado thrived in the new-look up-tempo style the first-year Ottumwa head coach installed this past year.
“(Ashley) was absolutely built for that style,” Patterson said. “She can push it as well as any point guard there is. It didn’t take long to see that. From our first open gym, I knew she could do it.”
Lacy will be in her first full season as head coach after taking over on an interim basis midway through last year at Marshalltown. Salgado is excited to learn from her new head coach what it takes to play the point at the highest level of women’s basketball.
“She was a point guard and had a great assist-to-turnover ratio,” Salgado said. “She’s someone that can really help me work with my individual skills, which is what I always wanted.”
Salgado’s signing is the last in what has been a spring filled with college letters being inked by the seniors that led Ottumwa to a 15-8 season, an 11-game winning streak and a CIML Metro Conference title. All told, five Bulldog basketball players that have been teammates for much longer will continue their hoops careers at the college level.
“We’re a talented group of girls,” Salgado said. “Together, we can do anything we want. I really believe that. Together, we’re great as a team, but individually we’re all going to hold our own on the college level.”
Salgado hopes she’ll soon get a chance to hold her own against the very best four-year college basketball players in the country.
“I’m going to JUCO now, but that’s okay. I’m going to keep bettering my skills, so people will have look out for me,” Salgado said.