Hutton Hoping To Make An Impact in Basketball and Beyond
Anzhané Hutton chose a college to help change the world. Social justice and racial equality are very important to her, and she wanted a decision that would align with those values.
“I chose Howard University because it was the Historically Black College & University (HBCU) that offered me a scholarship,” Hutton said. “Our success on the basketball court will bring attention not just to Howard, but all HBCUs. It will be good to be part of the group that starts it.”
Hutton, less than six months after graduating from high school in the Top 7 percent of the Class of 2020, started in her collegiate debut for Howard University, which is located in Washington D.C.
In her debut, she finished with 18 points and six rebounds as Howard defeated Mt. St. Mary’s, 87-83, on November 30.
Hutton is one of seven freshmen on the Howard roster, and she’s started all seven games for the Bison.
"She's a super athletic undersized post,” Howard head women’s basketball coach Ty Grace said.”Nae' is a relentless worker. She is aggressive, gritty and a tremendous rebounder. I look forward to watching her flourish."
Hutton is averaging 12.4 points and nine rebounds for Howard (5-2, 1-1). She’s ranked in the Top 100 nationally for rebounds per game, blocks per game and blocks. She’s twice been named Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Rookie of the Week and also received MEAC Newcomer of the Week honors by the Black College Sports Page.
She’s also helped Howard reach several milestones, including its best start in 16 years and its first-ever victory over the University of Richmond (65-54) last month. Howard has a chance to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years.
“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised,” Hutton said. “The freshmen we have are going to be solid over the next four years. We have the ability to change the game. The biggest adjustment to Division I basketball is the physicality. You have to finish through contact and go on to the next play.”
Another key victory was a 63-53 triumph over George Washington University, located just two miles away in Washington D.C. and a 75-72 victory at La Salle, in which Howard trailed by 23 points at one point.
“We are the best women’s college basketball team in D.C., and we’re not going to let anyone win on our homecourt,” Hutton said. “When we come together on defense, we’re unstoppable. Our defense creates offense.”
At Cedar Hill, Hutton led the Lady Longhorns to the Regional Finals where they lost to eventual 6A State Champion, Duncanville, 56-54, last February.
Cedar Hill head girls basketball coach Nicole Collins, who played college basketball at Baylor, said Hutton can help the Bison return to the NCAA Tournament.
“Anzhané is a program changer,” Collins said. “So I’m not surprised she has made such a quick transition into college ball. Although undersized at the small forward position, she is an incredible athlete with a knack for rebounding, is an incredible finisher around the basket and extremely mobile as a defender. Those are qualities that make a player special with the ability to influence the game. She did the exact same thing for us.
STARTING COLLEGE DURING COVID-19
Starting college during normal circumstances is always a challenge. But then you add in the factors of being 1,345 miles away from home during a global pandemic, and then the added responsibility of being an NCAA Division I scholar athlete.
Hutton said she and her teammates have been able to adjust to the challenges accordingly.
She arrived on campus in August and only had one opportunity to return to Cedar Hill during that time.
“Being a college athlete during COVID has been mentally and physically challenging,” Hutton said. “We didn’t play our first three games because we had to quarantine. Normally, we live to play for the fans, and you can’t do that now.”
Hutton is one of two players from Texas on the team, so she has become friends with junior Krislyn Marsh, who graduated from Duncanville. They sometimes joke with each other about the Cedar Hill-Duncanville rivalry.
Some Howard teams postponed their fall seasons until the spring, and all classes have been held virtually.
Hutton is grateful that starting this weekend, when the Bison host Coppin State, student-athletes from other Howard athletic programs will be able to watch their classmates compete, as long as they test negative for COVID-19 before entering the arena.
Hutton said with few students on campus, besides student-athletes, the lack of a social life has been a challenge.
Academically, she’s excelled with a 3.7 grade point average and has selected a major in International Business. Her long-term goal is to become a financial advisor.
“I already help my mom with her taxes, and I’m really good with numbers,” Hutton said.
Hutton said she isn’t necessarily counting on the opportunity to play professionally but would be open to it.
“If the opportunity presents itself, I would definitely take it,” Hutton said.
When COVID-19 ends and colleges can start welcoming fans back to the games, there is a prominent Howard University Graduate that Hutton would like to see courtside at Howard University’s Burr Gymnasium.
“I would love to meet US Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris,” Hutton said. “She seems like a bright soul.”