CUMMING — There are 30-some college basketball games left for Christy Hewatt, and that’s all she knows for certain.
In 2011, there was a whole career ahead of her at the College of Charleston, and she had written in her mind a story of stability and accomplishment. It was all she had known at Forsyth Central.
Three years later, the story of Hewatt’s college basketball career has unfolded with remarkable unpredictability. The stability has evaporated after three coaching changes, and the Cougars have made marginal progress toward postseason success as Hewatt has dealt with injuries and the adjustment to the college game.
Hewatt’s senior season approaches nonetheless.
“Time flew by unbelievably fast, that’s for sure,” she said.
At Forsyth Central, it was Hewatt at the vanguard of the Lady Bulldogs’ last era of relevance, when they reached the state tournament three straight seasons.
Her final season, Hewatt seemingly did it all. She posted per-game averages of 16.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 2.3 blocks en route to stacking up all-county, all-region and all-state honors. She also was named Forsyth County Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year.
Nancy Wilson recruited Hewatt to Charleston. She was in her second tenure with the Cougars. In Charleston and Wilson, Hewatt saw an environment and coaching staff with whom she could grow the next four years.
Instead, during her freshman season, Wilson announced she was resigning. The Cougars went 7-23, and Hewatt found the adjustment to the college game tougher than expected. There were preseason workouts “where you just absolutely want to die,” she said. There were lopsided losses to juggernaut programs, like that 72-24 loss to Connecticut. She played in 29 games, averaging 4.4 points in 17.1 minutes per game.
The biggest lesson for Hewatt was that a little piece of basketball as she knew it was gone. It wasn’t just a game anymore.
“The intensity, the atmosphere, just everything bumped up,” she said. “They expect so much out of you. It was a huge difference.
“They’re pretty much paying us to play. You know, they’re paying our tuition. They expect you to show up and perform.”
Hewatt’s new coach the following season was Natasha Adair. The Cougars improved, going 16-16 and playing in the Women’s Basketball Invitational, but Hewatt’s minutes, points and rebounds per game dropped in half.
That started to turn around last season. Charleston asserted itself as a contender in its first season in the Colonial Athletic Association, and Hewatt emerged as a significant contributor. By midseason, she had started 11 straight games and was averaging career highs by virtually every statistical measure.
Then, in a January game at Hofstra, Hewatt broke her hand. The injured occurred when she collided with an opponent while attempting a block, “a freak accident more than anything.”
The injury sidelined her for more than a month. It should’ve been longer, but Hewatt returned too soon. She came back Feb. 27 against James Madison and played just one minute. Hewatt made only 1 of 15 shots the rest of the season.
“It was really hard to deal with for a while,” Hewatt said. “But at the same time I had to be very positive about it. I got to see things from a new angle. As bad as it was, it was also a good thing.
“Seeing things on the court is completely different than seeing it off the court. When you’re on the court, certain angles seem better when you have the ball in your hands. It was definitely good to see things from a different perspective.”
Hewatt has a healthy perspective — and hand — going into her final season.
Adair left to become head coach at Georgetown. Charleston hired Duke assistant coach Candice Jackson to replace her, and Hewatt has been encouraged by the assistants Jackson assembled and the ideas they’ve brought to the program.
“They have a lot of basketball knowledge and really expect us to go far and will push us to get there,” Hewatt said.
She wants there to be a conference championship, a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament before she finishes her degree, gets her teaching certificate and pursues a position as a physical education teacher.
Whether the new coaching staff will see her as the regular starter she was the first half of last season, Hewatt doesn’t know.
Regardless, she’s embraced a role quite juxtaposed from her days as the stat-stuffer at Central. She takes charges. She makes extra passes.
“Those little things are forgotten sometimes,” Hewatt said.
However her story ends, Hewatt said she won’t forget how it all unfolded. She got to play against some of the premier players and programs in the country. She got to play basketball in a beautiful city at a great school.
Despite the tumult of coaching changes and injuries, Hewatt said she nears the end of her playing career without a single regret.
“The whole thing has been wonderful,” she said.