UNION MILLS — When Amber Wolf speaks, South Central listens.
The Satellites senior has certainly earned her words.
"People look up to her, respect her," coach Wes Bucher said. "She's the first one done in sprints. She's a natural leader and will be someone that leads by example and pushes everyone to be the best they can be. Amber, as well as our other two wonderful seniors (Faith Biggs and Lexy Wade) are doing an outstanding job getting this crew of hard working ladies ready to go."
It's not always easy being a vocal leader on a team. Say something critical to a teammate and they can take it out of context and now a friendship's strained. Wolf has no such issues at SC, where the Satellites senior can comfortably speak her mind and know it will be responded to the right way.
"Coach Bucher and I are kind of on the same page where we're both really involved in religion," Wolf said. "This is a team where we all pray together before games. I think the reason for our success last year was we have great relationships. It helps because I can scream at them on the court, get that pass in the post, you need to go here, direct them, and they can do the same thing right back to me."
Wolf and classmates Biggs and Wade will all provide a veteran presence for a Satellites squad that is an intriguing blend of experience from a 19-win, sectional-champion team and talented newcomers.
"Even last year, I think a lot of people wrote us off and we surprised them with the conference and the sectional," Wolf said. "I really think we're going to do that again."
If S.C. is going to meet its aspirations, Wolf will be an integral cog once again. The 6-foot guard-forward filled the stat sheet with averages of 12.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.3 assists.
"As our youth develops throughout the season, we will be looking to Amber to be the cohesive leader that makes the offense go" Bucher said. "She is great in transition, posts well, and has worked hard in the offseason to add the outside shot to her repertoire."
Among those junior-year numbers, the 9-of-21 shooting (43 percent) from the arc was a surprise to Wolf when Bucher informed her of it.
"He told me I need to be shooting a lot more than that," Wolf said. "I haven't really been shooting outside shots. I think teams in the area have been noticing and they were laying off, packing in. In the summer, I was working on my outside shot. Coach Buch is working with me constantly, forcing me to shoot it in practice. I just didn't have that confidence."
A greater threat from the arc will only further enhance Wolf's drive game as defenses will have to play her more honestly.
"I also went to a camp at DePauw," she said. "They helped me a lot. They gave me a lot of good insight, some guard moves I can use."
Just this week, Wolf verbally committed to the NCAA Division III school in Greencastle. During the recruiting process, she'd largely targeted NAIA schools since D-IIIs don't have athletic scholarships. In the end, though, she couldn't say no to the Tigers.
"I love DePauw. They were my No. 1 choice," she said. "The whole entire staff is amazing, the best I've ever worked with. They're so caring. It's guaranteed right out of your first four years that you'll either get in to med school, law school or get a job, and if you don't, they'll pay for you to come back for another semester."
In Wolf's case, that will be dental school. A 4.1 student with numerous dual credit Advanced Placement classes, she plans to become an orthodontist. It was a humorous turn of events for someone who once said her mom's dental hygienist job "grossed her out."
"I said, mom, why would you want to scrape people's teeth for a living?" Wolf said. "She said, you never know, maybe you'll like it. I shadowed Dr. (Robert) Cavanaugh and (Matthew) Nondorf and I was actually really interested. I said, OK, mom I see why you like it now."
DePauw began recruiting Wolf the summer before her junior year during AAU with the Northwest Indiana Thunder, a popular landing spot for S.C. players. She'd also been contacted by D-II Tampa, but the commitment and the distance were concerns.
"Everyone said, why don't you go there?" she said. "It's 16 hours away. DePauw's where I wanted to be. They were one of the first (to recruit me). They're helping me out so much financially."
In the meantime, Wolf is excited about South Central's move to 2A.
"Moving to 2A is definitely a big challenge but we have committed players," she said. "Even though they're young, they have the experience. They all have great basketball knowledge. We're hoping we can get our first 2A sectional."