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‘She wants to be the best’: Dahnye Redd driven by own high expectations to better herself, Morgan State women’s basketball

Dahnye Redd has not played a game for the Morgan State women’s basketball team without her No. 22 jersey, her Under Armour shoes and a flesh-colored Band-Aid under her right eye.

Why a Band-Aid? Redd herself isn’t even certain.

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“I started wearing it during my first season of AAU, which was my ninth-grade year,” she recalled. “I started wearing it in a game, and I think I played real well in that game, and everybody was asking my coach, ‘Who’s the girl with the Band-Aid? What’s her name?’ I don’t know. It just stuck with me. That just became my thing. It’s not even a good-luck charm. It’s just a ritual. I’ve just always got to have my Band-Aid on game day.”

The 5-foot-11 Redd has been more than a salve for the Bears, who finished the regular season with an 11-3 overall record and an 8-2 mark in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s Northern Division. They will meet North Carolina Central (3-11, 1-6) in a quarterfinal of the conference tournament Thursday at 2 p.m. at Norfolk Scope Arena in Virginia.

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Redd has been a catalyst for Morgan State. The redshirt senior power forward leads the team in scoring at 14.2 points per game and rebounding at 7.4. Ranking sixth in the league in both categories, Redd joins North Carolina Central 6-1 sophomore forward Anissa Rivera, North Carolina A&T 6-0 senior guard Chanin Scott, Howard 6-0 freshman forward Anzhane’ Hutton, and South Carolina State 5-11 freshman forward Trinity Klock as the only players to rank in the top 10 in points and rebounds.

Bears coach Edward Davis Jr. said if Redd — who was named to the All-MEAC first team — was two or three inches taller, she would be starring at a Power Five school.

“Dahnye is one of those kids that I wish every coach in America had an opportunity to coach,” he said. “She’s never a distraction, never a disciplinary problem, always on task, and that just makes her a great player. I think she brings that to the team in terms of her leadership. I automatically named her captain when she came back this year because I felt she had the leadership to make these kids follow her, especially with her ethics. If you watch someone get it done, then you have to follow her. She’s not just talking it, she’s doing it.”

Morgan State forward Dahnye Redd drives to the hoop for a basket against Howard forward Anzhane' Hutton at Hill Field House on Jan. 2, 2021.
Morgan State forward Dahnye Redd drives to the hoop for a basket against Howard forward Anzhane' Hutton at Hill Field House on Jan. 2, 2021. (Karl Merton Ferron/Karl Merton Ferron)

Redd did not warrant much attention from recruiters during her time at Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. Poor grades diluted career totals of 1,414 points and 991 rebounds (22 points, 13 rebounds a game), and she attracted interest from only a few Division II programs.

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Redd chose to play at Harford Community College, where she amassed 1,130 points and 826 rebounds in three years. (Her sophomore season of 2017-18 was limited to seven games by an unspecified injury.) She was recruited by Norfolk State, St. Bonaventure, St. Joseph’s and the University of the District of Columbia, but chose Morgan State because the coaches’ consistent attendance at her games demonstrated their desire to bring her to Baltimore.

Mike Seney, who coached Redd at Harford Community College, said Redd was the only freshman starter among four sophomores and lined up as the first participant for every drill in practice.

“You know how coaches watch film once the games are over? The players don’t really do that,” said Seney, who now coaches at CCBC-Essex. “The coaches have to force them to watch them. But Dahnye was constantly watching the film. If I put the film up too late, she was like, ‘Coach, you didn’t put the film up.’ She was a brainiac when it came to basketball because she watched so much film. … Her IQ was at a different level.”

Seney said Redd as a sophomore posted 25 points and 15 rebounds in a scrimmage against a Big East school. But a post-scrimmage meeting with the coach of the opposing team stunned him.

“The coach said to me, ‘Man, if only she was 6-2, I would take her,’” he recalled. “People were hitting me up and asking, ‘Coach, can we see the film of this kid?’ Then they would say, ‘Coach, she’s only 5-11.’ I’m like, ‘What does that matter?’”

Last winter in her first year with the Bears, Redd played Robin to Chelsea Mitchell’s Batman, ranking seventh in the MEAC in points (13.4), fifth in rebounds (7.5) and ninth in shooting percentage (.437) en route to being named a third-team selection. Although the season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic and Mitchell graduated, Redd returned with a renewed sense of hope about the team’s potential.

Intertwined in that was the expectation that Redd would succeed Mitchell as the leader, which she embraced.

“I just know that I always have to lead by example,” she said. “I always have to go hard. I always have to play at a higher level, and I like it. I like having that role. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

As a leader, Redd has not been shy about voicing her opinions, and she has reminded teammates often executing certain plays on offense to perfection or sprinting back on defense. She admitted that there have been times when her tone might have rubbed teammates the wrong way.

“I know that when I play, I play with a lot of passion,” she said. “So sometimes with me being so vocal, I might say it too aggressive just because I’m in the moment, and I know my teammates might be like, ‘Dang.’ I can be too aggressive. I know that I can come off as too aggressive sometimes. I do think that I’m too vocal sometimes and that I can tone it down a bit.”

Redd recalled an incident earlier in the season when she and sophomore point guard Ja’Niah Henson clashed during practice.

“It was just heated, and we were going back and forth,” she said. “But afterward in the locker room, we talked about it. We both had an understanding that it wasn’t anything personal. It was just on the court, it was the heat of the moment, and everything was cool.”

Senior shooting guard Sydney Searcy said she understands not to take Redd’s on-court chatter personally.

“A lot of the stuff that she says is true, but they’ll take the aggression in her voice just because it’s in the heat of the moment, and they’ll run with that,” she said. “I’ve definitely seen a couple faces shift and look to the side just because they thought she meant something different. But it was just the tone that she said it in.”

Redd can’t escape her own high expectations. She said she would be happier with her own numbers this season if she was averaging a double double in points and rebounds.

“I don’t even think I’m playing well right now,” she said. “I know there’s a lot more I could be doing. As a team, we’re playing well though. We’re playing great. But personally, I know there’s a lot more I could be doing.”

That kind of sentiment is what has endeared Redd to Davis. He pointed out that Redd tweaked her ankle during the Bears’ 63-54 win against Coppin State on Feb. 28, but managed to play 28 minutes despite finishing with four points and four rebounds.

“She wants to be the best, and the beauty of it is, she’s not saying that selfishly,” he said. “She’s saying that within the context of helping the basketball team, and she’s capable of doing that. Especially when you’re talking about a double-double on the glass, that’s something that you’ve got to want to do. She’s talking about going to get those double-digit rebounds. Offensively, she can score.”

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This winter, Redd leads Morgan State in field goals (64) and attempts (158). Her shooting percentage has dipped from .437 a year ago to .405, but Searcy traced the change to Redd extending her game beyond the post.

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“This year, she has shown that she is more versatile and that she’s not just a post player,” Searcy said. “She’s been shooting threes, shooting midrange, coming off the block. She’s been a really good shooter extending from the free-throw line. She’s extended her game a lot and making her own baskets. She’s upped her game a lot, and she feels more comfortable shooting those threes.”

Redd is on pace to graduate in May with a bachelor’s in liberal studies, and she would like to play basketball professionally before running her own business. But for now, all of her attention is devoted to helping Morgan State capture what would be its first-ever MEAC tournament championship.

“It’s very important,” she said. “It’s just like everything is falling into place, and that’s why I say that is a personal thing for me because I have a personal expectation for myself. The fact that we’re doing so well with me averaging the numbers that I’m averaging, I couldn’t be happier. I wasn’t aware of how this season was going to go. I was just worried. But everything has fallen into place as far as the bench, the starters, the coaches, having Coach Davis back. It’s just perfect timing for everything.”

MEAC quarterfinal

N.C. CENTRAL VS. MORGAN STATE

Norfolk Scope Arena

Thursday, 2 p.m.

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