MISSOULA — The Montana Lady Griz sit near the top of the Big Sky Conference standings this season with a 5-3 mark in league play and are 12-5 overall.
A big reason behind that has been the stellar play of guard Sammy Fatkin. The senior has come full circle in her Lady Griz career as she's made a big impact in her final season on the court.
Heading into this week's games against Weber State and Idaho State, Fatkin is second on the Lady Griz in scoring this season at 13.2 points per game, and has been a weapon driving to the basket, shooting from deep, and everything in between.
"She's always been a scorer. Just score, score, score," Lady Griz coach Brian Holsinger said. "And I said, 'Become a basketball player. If somebody takes this away, there's always another option.' And so, I've really challenged her with that and she's just ran with it and gotten better and better and obviously she's shooting the ball good and doing a lot of other things for our team."
Fatkin is shooting a career-best 37.2% from 3-point range and 44.1% from the field. She's also averaging 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game and has racked up 19 steals as well.
And it's been a winding college basketball road that has led to Fatkin's success this season.
Fatkin initially began her career at Arizona, but transferred to Montana in 2018.
But mid-way through her junior year in 2019, Fatkin left the program and basketball all-together, and returned home to Washington.
"Last year, I was able to spend it home with my family and that was amazing," Fatkin said. "Really blessed that I just got to be around them for that year."
Fatkin completed her undergrad degree in health and human performance at UM, and after graduating in November 2020, joined the workforce and began working at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car in the Seattle area.
"I'd always just seen myself in the medical field, and so working for Enterprise was a big shift and change of plans, but I learned a lot," Fatkin said. "And so that is part of the reason what inspired me to come get a masters and now I'm getting my masters in public administration."
But after over a year away from the game, the basketball itch came back, and Fatkin got in touch with Holsinger last summer through her connection with assistant Lady Griz coach Jordan Sullivan.
"I'd always had a relationship with Jordy, so that never went away," Fatkin said. "She was like, 'You should just get on the phone with Brian and see what you think.' Immediately I was like it just felt right and I love Montana. I loved it when I was here the first time and everything just lined up."
Once she got the green light to come back, Fatkin lept at the opportunity to return to UM for her final year of college basketball, and hasn't looked back.
"Honestly I just feel really blessed," Fatkin said. "The experience this year has just been amazing. Our team this year and the culture, it's just very family-oriented. We're playing together and honestly just full of joy. I couldn't ask for a better group."