Dakota Whyte is not afraid to dream big. And she’s determined to develop a game as big as her dreams.
Whyte, a junior point guard for Wisconsin, aspires to someday play in the Olympic Games for her native Canada.
But her more immediate goal is to help the Badgers to a successful 2014-15 season, which opens Sunday against Illinois State at the Kohl Center.
Whyte, who is from the Toronto suburb of Ajax, Ontario, prepared for the season by playing for the Canadian National B Team that won the Jones Cup this summer in Taiwan.
Whyte had played for various Canadian national teams since she was in ninth grade, but those were all age-based teams.
“This year it was the big girl pool where there’s no age limit,” she said. “That was a big thing because there was a lot of competition, so it was a huge accomplishment for me.
“It’s always been a dream for me to play in the Olympics. I love Canada, I love Toronto, I love where I’m from. I rep that with pride, just like you Americans do. So, hopefully, I can one day represent them.”
— Bobbie Kelsey
UW coach Bobbie Kelsey hopes that Whyte’s summer experience will pay immediate dividends this season with the Badgers.
Through her first two seasons at UW, Whyte’s potential has been shown in flashes rather than in consistent production. She started 16 of 29 games as a sophomore, averaging 6.2 points and 2.2 assists.
In the two exhibition games this season, against admittedly lesser competition, Whyte averaged 11.5 points, 7 assists, just 2 turnovers and 4.5 steals, while shooting 71.4 percent from the field.
Kelsey would love to see that sort of production in the regular season.
“I hope she continues to do that,” Kelsey said. “Dakota has come a long way. She’s a great kid and she does everything we ask her to do.
“I’m just hard on her because I want her to be good. I know what she wants to do, and that’s play for her national team. So I want her to live out her dream of playing in the Olympic Games at some point in her maturation as a basketball player.”
UW has gone 22-38 in Whyte’s first two seasons, finishing 11th (3-13) in the Big Ten each season.
But she is confident things are looking up.
“I don’t want to speak too soon and jinx anything, but with the offense we’re running I think it will help our scoring so much,” Whyte said. “One of our mottos has been to ‘attack the day’ and I don’t think we want to set a specific goal in terms of what we want to do.
“But I think that we’re definitely going to be a competitor in the Big Ten this year.”