September 25, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
The average February temperature in Las Palmas, Spain, is 58 degrees and, historically, the city has never received any snow.
So it might come as a shock that K-State women's basketball freshman Leti Romero said, "Being so far away from Spain, it was important to be somewhere that would feel like home," when talking about her decision to leave her home town of Las Palmas and play basketball for the Wildcats.
On February 20, the Midwest was hammered with one of last winter's worst snowstorms, and, as a result of that storm, K-State women's basketball was stuck in Oklahoma.
The storm closed down the K-State campus and delayed flights all over the Midwest. This was the weekend of Romero's first and only visit to K-State before showing up Aug. 29 as a member of the Wildcats' 2013-14 squad.
The 5-foot-8 point guard met up with assistant coach Shalee Lehning, then-director of team operations Danielle Zanotti and team manager Pablo Guimerá Coll while the rest of the team was stuck in Norman, Okla., for another day and a half following its game against the Sooners.
Despite the weather, Romero was shown around K-State, the basketball facilities and had a good time.
"I was very impressed during my visit," Romero said. "I was shocked at how nice the people were, and that was a very important factor in my decision."
Later, Romero would meet head coach Deb Patterson and teammates through video chat, but despite her trip's change of plans, the U19 Spanish National team star fell in love with K-State and chose the school over both Florida State and Virginia Tech.
"I knew that this was where I wanted to be and had a great feeling about it on my visit here," Romero said. "It's very different than Spain, but I love it already and I think I'm going to have a good time here."
Romero comes to Manhattan with an impressive basketball resume, to say the least.
A member of the U19 Spanish national team, Romero helped her team to a fourth place finish at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women this summer in Ukraine where she averaged 12.1 points, 4.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 steals.
After competing in Ukraine, Romero continued her summer competing in the 2013 FIBA U18 European Championship for Women from Aug. 15-25. Named tournament MVP and to the All-Tournament team, Romero led her team to gold after averaging 13.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.7 steals. In the championship game against France, Romero scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
"It was a very busy summer," Romero said. "It was a great experience to be able to play some great teams. With the Under 18 team, we were able to win our tournament and we became the European champions. It was an amazing experience and I'm proud of how my team worked that tournament."
In 2012, Romero competed in the U17 World Championships with her national team, and placed second to the United States after losing 75-62. Romero was named to the U17 World Championship's All-Tournament team along with USA players Diamond DeShields (North Carolina) and Linnae Harper (Kentucky), who were both ranked among the class of 2013 top-10 players in the United States.
Since she arrived in Manhattan at the end of August, Romero said she has been enjoying her time as a Wildcat and is ready to get the 2013-14 season started.
"I'm very excited to start. I don't know a lot about the league or the NCAA since I just started playing, so I'm very excited to get going and start practicing with my teammates and getting involved in everything," Romero said. "As a point guard I want to help my team as much as I can. Lead my team both on and off the court and work really hard to help this team win all of our games."
You can catch Romero's first game with the K-State women's basketball team on Oct. 28. The Wildcats will take on Washburn University in its first exhibition game this fall in Bramlage Coliseum.
Season tickets are available now for the 2013-14 women's basketball season. For more information, call 1-800-221-CATS or visit www.kstatesports.com/tickets.