This story is the third installment of a four-part series featuring the 2023 A-State Hall of Honor inductees.
In the 2015-16 season, only two Division-I women’s basketball players in the nation averaged 18 or more points, four or more rebounds and shot over 50 percent from the floor.
Those two? UConn great Breanna Stewart and Arkansas State guard Aundrea Gamble – the A-State women’s basketball program’s newest Hall of Honor inductee, who will be enshrined at the annual Hall of Honor banquet on Friday, Sept. 22.
Gamble’s three seasons at A-State (2013-16) were one of the most dynamic in program history, as she poured on 1,932 points – fourth all-time in school history – and finished tied for second in assists with 479. The McKinney, Texas, native was a four-time All-America selection and stands alone as the only player in the Sun Belt Conference to be a three-time Player of the Year in women’s basketball. Additionally, she helped the Red Wolves to a 73-29 ledger in her three seasons in Jonesboro.
“I think it’s so surreal knowing that’s what I was able to accomplish in three years,” Gamble said. “It’s crazy to go back and think of it that way, but it’s also really cool to go back and see what my hard work and dedication to the game resulted in during my time at Arkansas State.”
Friday’s enshrinement is not the first for Gamble, as she was named to the Kilgore College Hall of Fame in 2022 before being inducted into McKinney ISD’s hall of fame in 2023.
After being a three-sport star at McKinney North High School, she signed with Denver. But after a summer in the Rockies, she elected to return home to the Lone Star State, where she was an all-conference performer for Kilgore. During that time, it was an old AAU teammate (and high school rival) – standout A-State point guard Ashley Olvera – who identified her as a fit for Head Coach Brian Boyer’s Red Wolves.
“(Olvera) was one of the main people who I’d have loved to play with again,” Gamble recalls. “When that opportunity came, she talked to Coach Todd Schaefer. When he came to see me play, he mentioned me to Coach Boyer, and that’s how it happened. It started with Ashley Olvera and trickled down the line to Todd Schaefer and Coach Boyer.”
After Gamble joined the Red Wolves, she initially redshirted in 2012-13, but burst onto the scene as a redshirt sophomore in 2013-14 and ultimately became A-State’s first Sun Belt Player of the Year since 1993-94. She averaged nearly 19 points per game and shot nearly 50 percent from the floor. But that season was not without its hardships…
A-State finished a buzzer-beating layup shy of the program’s first NCAA Tournament bid – falling 61-60 in the Sun Belt Tournament final to Western Kentucky.
In 2014-15, she repeated as the league’s Player of the Year and earned WBCA Honorable Mention All-America honors after averaging 19.2 points per contest and setting an A-State single-season record with 171 assists. As stellar as that season was, the Scarlet and Black were unable to cut the nets at the conference tournament, dropping a 78-72 decision in the championship bout to rival Little Rock.
After a second-round finish in the WNIT, Gamble’s senior season proved to be her (and the program’s) best. The two-time All-American and now three-time SBC Player of the Year helped A-State to a 27-6 mark overall and 19-1 finish in league play, averaging 18.8 points and 5.0 assists. However, the Red Wolves’ run ended at the conference tournament – but this time with a shot at an at-large bid with a top-40 RPI.
But still no bid, as A-State reached the second round of the WNIT for the second year in a row, with Gamble ending her tenure with double-figure scoring in 89 of 102 games played and nearly 2,000 points scored.
When Gamble looks back on her illustrious career, she now understands that the failures at the time led to hunger for more, and would eventually reap rewards later.
“You have to fail in order to be successful,” she said. “Looking back to my redshirt sophomore year, missing a layup at the buzzer to go to the NCAA Tournament. Being that close and having to come back the next two years to try to do it all over again. In that moment, you’re like, ‘I don’t want to go through this again.’ But, I think going through that moment made me a better player and it made me hungrier for more to come. I think that’s one of the biggest things that’s hard to grasp in the moment but it pays off in the end.”
Feature Story: 2023 Hall of Honor Inductee Aundrea Gamble. Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council