November 14, 2021 

Addie Budnik is back at Richmond with new confidence

The reigning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year looks to build on her success from last season

Early in Addie Budnik’s basketball career, she was never pushed into the post despite always being one of the taller players. 

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“I was able to play outside a lot, [and] develop those guard skills,” the Richmond sophomore said. “And I think that helped me be a really versatile player.” 

At the Atlantic 10 Media Day on Oct. 27, Budnik described her versatility as “being able to hit shots from the outside but also being able to be strong with my back to the basket. I think that really does well in our offense — just helping move the ball around and help our team be as successful as possible.”

Budnik is not one to brag about her success or play for attention, but the Highland Park, Ill. native made her name known in the A-10 from the very first time she stepped on the court for the Spiders.

In her debut on Nov. 25, 2020, Budnik had 12 points, three rebounds, one assist and two blocks in just 26 minutes against Virginia Tech. 

Eleven days later, Budnik had a career-high 23 points and added four rebounds, two assists and three blocks. The next day she was named A-10 Rookie of the Week — the first time a Spider rookie earned the award since the 2016-17 season. 

Budnik noted that the most difficult part of the transition to college was the increased pace and physicality. 

She told the Chicago Tribune, “In high school, I was used to being one of the bigger and stronger players on the court, but in college, that’s not the case. It’s something I’m continuing to work on and prepare for as I continue forward in my college career.”

Budnik found success on the defensive end as well, blocking six shots against Howard on Dec. 22. The six blocks were the most for a Richmond player since 2002 and tied the program record for third-most in a single game. 

Her success continued throughout the rest of the 2020-21 season. After coming off the bench in the first four games of the season, Budnik started the last 18. In addition, she scored in double-figures 14 times and had a block in all 22 games. She also led the team in field goal percentage (48.5%). 

Over the course of the season, Budnik averaged 11.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 3.0 blocks per game. 

Despite a shorter-than-average season, she recorded the second-most blocks in a season at Richmond (65). Budnik also led the A-10 in blocks per game (3.0) and finished eighth in the country in that category. 

After a 47-42 win against George Washington on Jan. 13, Richmond head coach Aaron Roussell said, “[I] just didn’t feel like we could take her off the floor. To do that as a freshman, to have the battles and matchups … That’s huge for us.”

On March 9, Budnik was named the A-10 Rookie of the Year. She was the first Spider to be named A-10 ROY (Pam Bryant was named the 1986 CAA ROY).

Budnik was also named one of the finalists for the World Exposure Report Freshman of the Year award. 

“Receiving a lot of attention this year was definitely a change from my experience in high school,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “I’m not one to play for attention, regardless of the circumstances, but it was really nice to see my hard work paying off.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Budnik did not have a traditional preseason last year. After her freshman year, she was able to have a full offseason and preseason to improve and prepare for the 2021-22 season. 

Roussell complimented her work ethic and noted that he believes Budnik got faster and stronger and that her jump shot looks “fantastic.”

“I think a huge credit to her was what she was able to do when she was at home,” Roussell said.” You saw when she was at home for five, six weeks at a time, the difference in her.”

Roussell hopes that her work over the summer and her experience from last season gives Budnik additional confidence in her sophomore season. 

“She’s — I hate to say a different player, that maybe doesn’t give her the credit that she deserved from last year,” Roussell said. But [she] just has a different aura about her. I think she’s really carrying herself well. And she’s tough to guard out there, no question.”

Budnik said that last season she was timider but does have the added confidence going into this season her coach hoped she would. 

“I think just being a first-year you don’t really know what to expect at the collegiate level,” she said. “And I think just having a year of experience has completely changed my game. I know I came in this summer a lot more confident. And I think that’s really going to go well for this season.”

In the first two games of the season, Budnik averaged 12 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 steals and 4.5 blocks per game.

Teammate Claire Holt believes one of the things that makes Budnik a great teammate is that she has no ego and is calm and collected. 

“She’s really humble,” Holt said. “She really works to do her job. She doesn’t want a spotlight. And I think on the court, you can tell that. She may make a great highlight reel play but then she won’t even cheer or taunt anybody, she’ll just go to the next play. And I think it makes her a really great competitor.” 

As Richmond looks to continue the success it had last season, Budnik’s play will be key. 

“She had a fantastic rookie season,” Rousell told The Next before the season, “but she is significantly better now than even she was last year.”

Written by Natalie Heavren

Natalie Heavren has been a contributor to The Next since February 2019 and currently writes about the Atlantic 10 conference, the WNBA and the WBL.

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