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Senior Sophie Brunner leaves long-lasting impact on ASU women's basketball

The Sun Devil has been an intricate part to ASU's success over the past four years, staring in 113 of 124 games

ASU senior forward Sophie Brunner (21) drives towards the basket during a women's basketball game against the no. 15 ranked UCLA Bruins in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. ASU lost 55-52.  (Josh Orcutt/State Press)
ASU senior forward Sophie Brunner (21) drives towards the basket during a women's basketball game against the no. 15 ranked UCLA Bruins in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. ASU lost 55-52. (Josh Orcutt/State Press)

Senior forward Sophie Brunner is an ASU women's basketball legend, according to those around her.

Originally from Freeport, Illinois where she attended Aquin High School and earned two consecutive 1A state championships, Brunner has made her presence felt starting in 113 of her 124 career games during her four years in Tempe.

"She's been one of the all-time great players in the history of ASU women's basketball," head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "On top of that, she's an unbelievable ambassador for our program. She's the most humble, hard-working, giving young lady you'd ever meet."

During her tenure at ASU, the 21-year-old has one regular season Pac-12 Championship, honorable-mention recognition from the 2016 WBCA Division I Coaches' All-America Team, and countless game winners. Not to mention a 70-footer she banked in on Friday against USC

"You're suppose to leave a place better than you found it," Brunner said. "So I hope that's what I've done."

The 6-foot-1-inch standout is also second all-time in ASU women's history in rebounds (901) and moved into seventh place in points (1,352) on senior day Sunday. 

"I think it means more probably to the people around me or my family and friends," Brunner said. "They pay more attention than I do. I've never been one to look at that or even pay much attention to it. I think that just speaks to the type of teams I have been on. I've played with a lot of great players, I've been well coached and without them none of that would have been possible."

Throughout Brunner's career at ASU, she has often had to bear a heavy load of the responsibility on the court. However, in her last year as a Sun Devil, being the unquestioned leader on a fairly inexperienced ASU roster, Brunner was forced into a bigger responsibility than ever before.

"Often times Sophie has to carry the team on her back," senior center Quinn Dornstauder said after the USC win Friday. "I couldn't even put into words the amount that she has done for this team — it's a lot."

The modest but respected Brunner also had to deal with not having ASU's vocal leader and best 3-point shooter coming into the season in senior guard Kelsey Moos, who missed most of the season due to a foot injury. 

"What an incredible load she's had to carry for us," Turner Thorne said. "Besides, 'Hey can you be our leading scorer, leading rebounder, best defender, can you get some steals, get some run-outs, can we run everything through you and by the way can you lead this entire team while you play?' And that's what she's been doing." 

Brunner doesn't care that she has to do more than anyone else dressed in maroon and gold in order for them to be successful — all she wants to do is win. 

The Sun Devils wrapped up regular-season play Sunday in a loss to UCLA, and now, look ahead to this weekend's Pac-12 tournament. The team will then in all likelihood play in the NCAA tournament, and Brunner knows her career at ASU is nearing to an end.  

One thing she will miss more than anything else isn't the games, the fandom, the process — it's something much greater.

"I definitely think my teammates just because the friendships I've been able to make with them, it means a lot," Brunner said. "They're probably going to be my friends for the rest of my life."

And Brunner is wise beyond her years, Turner Thorne said. Anything from her basketball IQ on the floor to her charisma as a person off of it, Brunner makes a positive impression everywhere and on anyone she meets.

Turner Thorne has even said that seeing Brunner jerseys in the stands — more importantly on the road —  is not an uncommon sight. 

"The one thing I always say about her," Turner Thorne said. "She's like one of the most loved players I've ever coached because, every week we're home. No matter where we are there's Sophie Brunner fans' in the stands.That doesn't happen because you score points, I'm sorry. Especially in women's basketball, it happens because of who you are." 

Reach the reporter at or follow @Tyler_Handlan on Twitter.

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