Melody Kempton is one of the better bench players on the West Coast. She is the ultimate do-it-all sixth woman for a Gonzaga team that is loaded with talent. Her stat line of 7.0 points and 4.3 rebounds may not leap off the page, but the 6’1 forward provides very little drop-off when the Wirth sisters hit the bench, and her consistency and effort on both ends of the court make her extremely valuable.
Kempton has played in all 65 games her first two seasons as a Bulldog, averaging 13.7 minutes as a freshman and 20.7 minutes last year. As a sophomore, she finished second on the team in both blocks and offensive rebounds. She played 33 minutes and had a double-double against Stanford at Maples Pavilion in perhaps the best game of her career. The Post Falls, Idaho native posted a 51.9% field goal percentage, which led the team by a fairly substantial margin.
Now as a junior, she looks to keep building on her successes. The Wirth sisters are back for their senior seasons and will start in the front court, keeping Kempton in her role of first forward off the bench. Despite her efficiency from the floor and her ability to do the little things better than most anyone on the team, she does have flaws. Her free throw percentage is under 60 percent, which is a problem considering she led the team in free throw attempts a season ago. She also had, by far, the worst assist-to-turnover ratio on the team. Some of that is due to her drawing a lot of fouls on offensive rebounds so the assist numbers are low. But her turnover numbers are not ideal.
With a cut in turnovers and and a higher free throw mark, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities to see Kempton jump from 7.0 points a game to right around double figures. In any case, her rebounding and interior defense should continue to shine. She has a nose for the basketball and will continue to play a huge role in Coach Fortier’s forward rotation. And next season, after the Wirth sisters and Jill Townsend graduate, Kempton may become a senior superstar.