Unafraid of any animal
Rayburn has innate ability with basketball and with animals
There is not much Purdue senior guard Brittany Rayburn doesn’t do. She leads the No. 13 Boilermakers in scoring, has a stellar outside shot, and isn’t afraid to take charges on the defensive end. She’s an honor roll student, an animal lover and planning to go to veterinary school.
Rayburn even rescues her teammates from stray mice.
During the recent Mackey Arena renovation project, there were a couple mice scurrying around the women’s basketball locker room. Panic ensued.
“Everybody started screaming and Brittany just went over and picked a mouse up,” Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp said. “She has a keen sense about animals and a way with them.”
|12||Brittany Rayburn||Purdue vs. Minnesota||2012|
|12||Cornelia Gayden||LSU vs. Jackson St.||1995|
|11||Danielle Viglione||Texas vs. Houston||1994|
|11||Melody Howard||Missouri St. vs. Drake||1994|
|11||Vicki Adelman||Western Ill. vs. Southeast Mo. St.||1995|
|11||Katrina Robinson||Chicago St. vs. Troy||1995|
|11||Joy Gallagher||Wagner vs. Boston U.||2003|
|11||Janae Stokes||South Fla. vs. Grambling||2008|
Growing up in the country, Rayburn had grown accustomed to varmints running around her family’s property in Attica, Ind. – a small town of only 3,000 people about 40 minutes from Purdue’s campus in West Lafayette.
As a little girl, she always tended to injured stray dogs, and even shadowed the local veterinarian as a sixth-grader. This week, the animal science major will interview at Purdue’s veterinary school.
“My mom is really scared of mice, so I was always the one to go take them outside and get them out of the house,” Rayburn said. “I became unafraid of any animal. They’re more scared of us than the other way around.”
Lately, opponents have probably felt the same way about Rayburn.
On Jan. 12 at Minnesota, Rayburn matched a 17-year-old NCAA women’s basketball record by making 12 3-point shots. She nailed 12-of-16 from beyond the arc, setting both school and Big Ten records for 3-point field goals made en route to a 38-point performance and a victory against the Gophers.
“All I could do was laugh every time it went up,” Rayburn said. “My teammates were setting such good screens and such good passes that it felt like practice. It was almost like form shooting – I felt like I couldn’t miss no matter where I shot from.”
“It was magical and everybody felt it,” Versyp said. “She was in a zone and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Three days later versus Iowa, Rayburn hit the game-winning free throws after grabbing an offensive rebound off a Purdue missed free throw with 17.5 seconds left. Purdue topped the Hawkeyes, 57-55, as the Boilermakers remained the lone unbeaten team in the Big Ten at 5-0.
For the 2008 Indiana Miss Basketball, the performances were worthy of a Women’s National Player of the Week award as she made her mark in the rich tradition of Purdue women’s basketball.
“She’s continued the tradition and history of Purdue women’s basketball,” Versyp said. “She’s been a very important piece of the success we’ve had here during her time.”
Versyp knows a little something about Purdue’s history. She was named Indiana Miss Basketball in 1984 becoming the first of eight Miss Basketballs to play for the Boilermakers.
Rayburn has a special appreciation for Purdue’s tradition. She grew up watching the 1995 Indiana Miss Basketball Stephanie White – a family friend – play first in high school, and then move on to Purdue where she led the Boilermakers to the 1999 NCAA Championship.
“First I was just a fan of hers, but as I got older and started understanding what was going on I became really interested – I was one of the only kids to sit in the crowd and actually watch the game,” Rayburn said.
“She watched Stephanie White – also from a small community and a Miss Basketball – come here and make her mark,” Versyp said. “I think when you grow up in that type of area with those kinds of role models it motivates you to go to that university and continue the legacy someone else has started as well as make your own.”
Versyp was the Indiana University head coach when she began recruiting Rayburn as a freshman at Attica High School, and was the first to offer her a scholarship. But Versyp left IU to coach her alma mater in 2006, making Rayburn’s college choice a little more clear-cut despite interest from programs like Connecticut and Duke.
“I think what sealed my decision was Coach V. coming to Purdue,” Rayburn said. “Academically, it was the school I loved and basketball-wise the school I grew up watching and loved as well. Her coaching style was something I liked a lot compared to other places. I put everything together and it became my dream school.”
Rayburn – one of the Boilermakers’ team captains – is averaging 15.0 points per game and is shooting 39.6 percent from 3-point range while helping Purdue post a 15-3 overall record.
“She’s always been a tough competitor and has worked exceptionally hard at her game, but is now the whole package,” Versyp said. “With her points, with her taking charges – she’s had 20 in 18 games, and her pride in playing defense … she’s a solid player.”