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Cal Poly Women's Basketball Senior Spotlight: Devin Stanback

Cal Poly Women's Basketball Senior Spotlight: Devin Stanback

        Devin Stanback has earned dual nicknames from Cal Poly women's basketball head coach Faith Mimnaugh.

        The first nickname, "D-Train," derives from her offensive ability on the court. The second, "Dr. Stanback," however, stems from being a Big West All-Academic honoree with aspirations of continuing her studies in physician assistant school.

        A Kinesiology major, Stanback's long-term goal following PA school is to pursue pediatrics.

        "I've wanted to work in pediatrics as long as I've known I wanted to have a career in medicine. I love working with children and enjoy being around them," Stanback said. "Kids are so playful and charismatic and have the ability to brighten anyone's day. When they're sick, they're extremely vulnerable and unable to help themselves. I want to work to help sick kids return back to their joyous, energetic selves."

        "I did a medical internship at Stanford last summer where we got to experience all of the different specialties you can have a career in," she added. "Pediatrics and emergency medicine were the two I was most excited about and had the most fun learning about and practicing."

        Stanback earned Conference Commissioner's Honors in both 2017 and 2018 after adjusting to the quarter system from semesters at Pepperdine, where she played her first two seasons. She has also made the Dean's List since transferring to Cal Poly.

        "I think it sets her up for an incredible future whether she ends up going into being a PA or physician," Mimnaugh said.

        While leading the Mustangs in scoring with 13.6 points per game, Stanback is shooting 51.2 percent overall, No. 3 in the conference for 2018-19.

        "I see her as kind of an unstoppable force. She's powerful and so strong and we really want to highlight her as an offensive asset," Mimnaugh commented. "She's just been a dynamic scorer for us."

        Coming into this week, her field-goal percentage ranks 71st in the country.

        "You can find her at any spot and she'll be able to score from it," senior teammate Katie Nunnelley says. "Especially around the rim, it's almost 100 percent, which is amazing especially because at 6-1 she's not the tallest big, so it's really nice for all of us to be able to distribute to her."

        This year, Stanback has also added range to her shot, going 9-for-19 (.474) from 3-point range.

        "Over the summer, I really wanted to work on expanding my game," Stanback said. "I didn't want to just be a post player; I wanted to make sure that I could do other things if they were to stop me in the post, so I worked with Mack and T [assistant coaches Mackenzie Argens and Kristina Santiago Bennett] and coach Faith and everyone on improving my shot and making it a lot faster. Before last year, it was a lot slower and very easy to guard, so we worked on quickening the pace of my shot and also making it more accurate."

        She went a career-best 4-for-5 from beyond the arc on Nov. 9 at Oregon State when matched up with 6-foot-8 Beavers center Joanna Grymek, pulling her out of the paint as the game went on.

        "We kind of designed things for her on the perimeter so she could get a lot more opportunities there," Mimnaugh said, "and she really stepped up to the opportunity. She showed obviously that she's got range, and the more that we get her into positions on the court where she can go against players using her quickness or her range, or if she's got somebody smaller on her and she's pounding it inside, the better. Her footwork is excellent on the interior, and she's just been a tremendous presence for us."

        Initially growing up, Stanback played tennis. After a growth spurt to almost 6 feet tall, though, she took up basketball in eighth grade, following in the footsteps of her older brother Chace, who played at UCLA and UNLV before a pro career in Italy.

        Growing up in West Hills, just over 20 miles outside the UCLA campus, Devin recalls attending Chace's games with the Bruins alongside Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love as one of her favorite memories as a kid. Today, her younger brother Trevor is also a collegiate student-athlete, as a junior on the Stanford men's basketball team.

        "He's only two years younger than me, so he started playing around the same time I did," she said. "It was fun to progress with him. We were both kind of new to it, so it's been really fun to grow up with them, being able to watch basketball with them and hear what they have to say."

        Transitioning from tennis to basketball, she eventually came into her own at Chaminade High, winning a state championship in 2014, averaging 14.9 points and 8.9 rebounds for a squad ranked sixth in the country.

        "She's always been on our wish list," Mimnaugh said. "We're really glad that we were able to get her a second time around (in the recruiting process)."

        Several factors drew her to Cal Poly when transferring after her sophomore year with the Waves. "I wanted to go to a school that was highly academic because of what I want to do afterwards, wanting to work in medicine," she explained, "but also just my chemistry with the team when I came on my visit, and also the coaching staff. They were all so welcoming and easy to talk to; I felt really comfortable here, and also, they had a plan for me, like, 'This is what we want you to do.'"

        When asked if she has any hidden talents most people don't know about, Stanback shares that she used to compete as a singer in talent shows. "I don't really advertise it," she clarified, but after teammates found out about her skill, they haven't let up with requests.

        "One of her gifts that very few people know about, because she's a little bit shy, is she has an incredible voice," Mimnaugh added, smiling. "And so we're trying to get her to share that gift, so maybe you'll see her at some stage singing the national anthem; we'll keep working on her."

        Nunnelley added regarding her teammate: "She's very calm and collected all the time. She's always trying to make you better and she's a really good leader. She's one of the nicest people I've ever known. She's a really good friend and she always has my back."

        One of Stanback's favorite classes at Cal Poly is Kinesiology 407, Adapted Physical Activity.

        "Most of the classes I take have a lab attached, and for that lab I had to go to Atascadero every Thursday to work with people with special needs, which I thought was amazing," Stanback said. "And basically, we just help them improve their skills; that's what we did for that quarter. It was really fun getting to know all of them, and a lot of them come to games."

        "She initially came here with the idea of becoming a pediatrician, and when I see her working with kids at our camps or clinics, I hope that she doesn't give up that dream," Mimnaugh added. "I know it's a long road to hoe when you get into medical school, but she certainly has the talent and capabilities of doing it, and we're really, really proud that she puts as much thought and intent into her academics as she does into her basketball."

Photos © Alexander Bohlen / David E. Holmes / Owen Main

Cal Poly continues its conference-opening home stand this weekend, hosting UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Jan. 12. Tipoff for the Blue-Green Rivalry game is 2 p.m.