Entering her first season as the women’s basketball coach at the University of Rhode Island, Tammi Reiss looked at the film and immediately saw promise and a game-changer in the paint.
And through 17 games, Quincy’s Nicole Jorgensen has certainly fulfilled that promise with the best start of her four seasons in Kingston, averaging per-game career highs in points (16.8), rebounds (9.1), and blocks (1.4) for the 10-7 Rams.
“One of the reasons I was very interested in the job is because of Nicole,” said Reiss, a former All-American at the University of Virginia who had served as an assistant at Syracuse the past four years.
“As a player, that young woman had all of the potential in the world.”
Jorgensen, a 6-foot-5 center, told Reiss that she wanted to be a professional. From there, the two crafted a plan.
“All these intangible qualities, that for whatever reason were lacking in the past, Nicole never truly fulfilled her potential,” Reiss said. “I told her, ‘you’re the best center [in the Atlantic-10] league and I know this. I think you know this’ . . . I know the talent this young woman possesses.
“I wish we had Nicole for four years. My God . . . She would’ve broken every record this school has ever seen.”
A three-time A-10 Player of the Week, the Quincy High grad caught up with the Globe as the Rams prepared for Sunday’s matchup at St. Bonaventure.
There was a coaching change. Why did you stay at Rhode Island?
When we found out that [Daynia La-Force] was leaving, it was hard because she had [recruited me]. It was upsetting. It was scary to know that we had a whole new coaching staff.
With coach Reiss, we had a conversation. She made me feel comfortable with the switch. I know her past in basketball. She’s been very successful. She brought in a coaching staff that was very successful, we were all ready to take the next step forward.
Are there postgraduate basketball opportunities on your radar? WNBA or overseas?
As far as overseas or the WNBA, I’d love to stay in the states. URI is Division 1. We aren’t UConn. We’re not like the men. I’m not Lamar Odom. You kind of have to make the WNBA workout and prove that you’re good enough. Honestly, it all depends . . . How far we go in the NCAA Tournament, if we make the NCAA Tournament, how we perform. Scouts aren’t just coming to random games.
What are you planning to do with your health science major?
Honestly, I think I might want to do some type of physical therapy or occupational therapy.
Growing up with three older brothers — Ian, Alex and Curran — did that fuel your competitive fire?
They were a big influence growing up because we played sports in the backyard. They held me to a higher standard. All three of them have influenced me to become the best athlete and person that I can be.
What parts of your game are you most proud of developing since you got to college?
I think I finally developed a left hand. At this point, I’m comfortable anywhere. I think that I’m pretty confident to say that I’m a leader on the team.
Who is the toughest player you’ve ever matched up with?
Probably Alex Harris from Dayton or Natalie Butler, the UConn transfer that went to George Mason.
How often do random people ask you your height?
A thousand times a day. Seriously. No matter where I am. Not only do people ask me how tall I am, people are staring at me. It’s every day.
How do you feel about starting your last semester of undergraduate studies?
Everyone talks about how fast it’s going to go. You don’t believe them until you’re in the exact spot that you’re talking about. Just to know that I only have a certain amount of games here is scary.
Greg Levinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.