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Entering her junior season, guard Chelsey Gipson is excited to take on new challenges and responsibilities. She is also determined to step up as a leader and help guide the Lions to success in the city she calls home.

Last season Gipson emerged as one of the Lions' most consistent producers, averaging 16.1 points per game and shooting 35.8% from three point range last season. Gipson also added 3.07 assists per game and 2.6 rebounds per game during her sophomore season.

Gipson is a Los Angeles native whose basketball influences include Los Angeles basketball stars Kobe Bryant and Candace Parker. Growing up playing organized basketball in L.A., she has seen the basketball talent the city has to offer and this has motivated her to be the best player on the court.

“There’s a lot of people I know out here, a lot of connections. [I'm] just trying to be the best on the Westside or the West Coast,” said Gipson. “There are a lot of good girls that I’ve played with that live in L.A. so [I'm] just trying to stand out against them.”

Success on the court is nothing new to Gipson, who even at a young age was regarded as an excellent basketball player by her peers.

“I really started playing in maybe third grade on the actual club team. I guess I realized then that I was really good because when I first started playing on the club team, a guy actually starting a team for boys came up to my school asking if there were any good boys at the school, but everybody pointed at me,” said Gipson. “I guess that’s when I realized, because everyone pointed at me even though I wasn’t a boy.”

When Gipson joined the Lions her freshman year, it was a new experience for her despite the familiar location. She initially faced new struggles and challenges when shifting from high school to college basketball.

“Playing in high school, I was always ... the top player. I think coming to LMU there were a lot of people that were more experienced than I was ­­— they were bigger than I was. I came into LMU doubting myself, not very confident.”

It was not long before Gipson began standing out as one of the Lions' top scoring options. Reflecting on last season's individual success, Gipson wants to give herself the new challenge of focusing on her leadership of the team this season. With six new freshman players and one transfer, Gipson has made it a priority to take on a new role for the Lions.

“I’m very quiet so I think that’s always been challenging for me. I think I’m going to take [on] that role of being a leader and talk more,” said Gipson. “I’m trying to do that better this year and hopefully get even better my senior year. But that’s always been the challenge for me — talking, coming out of my comfort zone.”

Currently, Gipson is one of the players with more experience on the team, as this young Lions team is full of new additions. The Lions will play this season without several impactful senior players who graduated last year, including All-WCC First Team guard Gabby Green, LMU’s all-time leading rebounder Bree Alford and all-time assists leader and former team captain Andee Velasco.

In preparation for this season, Gipson worked on improving certain aspects of her game. She believes that these new skills she has been working on will add a new dimension to her offensive scoring attack, primarily centered around her mid-range shooting.

“For my game, I think I want to focus more on my mid-range. [Opposing] teams know that I like to shoot threes or I ... drive to the basket," Gipson said. "So maybe getting that mid-range so I can catch them off guard and have them not expect it as much [will] add more to my game and have more options to do instead of just shooting threes or attacking.”

With her goals in mind, Gipson wants to keep her passion alive and remember why she plays and puts in the work to be a consistent producer for the Lions. Gipson is able to take on these new roles, responsibilities and challenges because of her mental preparation.

As a new leader and emerging star for LMU, Gipson consistently reminds herself why she puts in the work she does to reach her goals, including her aspirations to continue to ascend in the basketball ranks.

“I try to remind myself why I’m doing it ... I have a goal and that goal is to play professionally in the WNBA. I just stay in that mindset of why I’m doing it and why I work so hard and not let anything stop me from getting to my goal ... [I] remind myself that I do have a gift of playing basketball,” Gipson said.

Their season begins Saturday, Nov. 9, at UCLA. The team’s first game at home in Gersten Pavilion is on Nov. 13 against the University of Hawaii.

Sports Editor

Miles Thomas is a junior communications major from Hermosa Beach, CA. Miles is a lifelong Lakers, Seahawks and Dodgers fan, and hopes one day the Sonics return to Seattle. Miles enjoys a good hangout and basketball with friends in his spare time.

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