Aug. 5—CHEYENNE — Malene Pedersen never got the high-level basketball experience she thought she would during her freshman year of college.
Shortly before arriving at Kansas State for the 2021-22 campaign, Pedersen tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee while competing with the Aabyhoj IF in the women's Danish League in her home country of Denmark. She redshirted and rehabbed during that season.
Although she didn't develop that on-court experience, she still garnered some of that Power-5 experience just being on the sidelines, and during their trip to the NCAA Tournament, where Kansas State made it to the second round. She's looking forward to carrying that with her into her career with the University of Wyoming women's basketball program. She committed to the Cowgirls in April.
"Even though I didn't play for Kansas State, just having that experience of being at a high-level school gives me some advantage for now that I can play," she said.
Wyoming had recruited Pedersen in the past, and Pedersen said she was excited to see that the Cowgirls were still interested in her after she was away from the court and had to overcome her injury.
"I was glad to hear that they were interested in me, and that they were still watching what I was doing," she said. "And when they saw that I was in the transfer portal, that they were still interested in me, even though I had been through an injury, that built up my confidence."
Already having established a relationship with Pedersen was vital in getting her to Laramie after she hit the portal, first-year Cowgirls coach Heather Ezell said. And with Pedersen still having four years of eligibility, it's almost like bringing in a new recruit.
"She's that Power 5 kind of player. She was able to practice with K-State, and that's one of the big things we try to do in the portal is get kids for multiple years," Ezell said. "And for us, it's kids we recruited before, and we already had those relationships, and we're still getting them young and building with them."
Pedersen was a Danish Women's League all-star in 2019 and 2021. She was the 2019 League Talent of the Year after leading Aabyhoj IF to the league title. The 5-foot-11 guard was also a member of the Denmark National Team in the 2019-20 FIBA Women's Eurobasket Qualifiers and helped the Danish Under-16 National Team win the 2017 European Championship Division B title.
Those experiences — especially playing in the Danish League as a teenager — helped her game grow by leaps and bounds.
"A lot of these experiences have helped me develop my game," said Pedersen, whose hometown is Aabyhoj. "Before I came to the United States, I was a starter, and I was having a big role (Aabyhoj IF). I learned a lot during those years. It helped me develop my skills, my IQ and leading my teammates."
Pedersen has yet to play a live game following her injury, but she'll get the opportunity this month when the Cowgirls visit Australia and will compete against four Australian teams during their two-week voyage. She was cleared in January to get back to basketball activity, and is anxious to see where she can take her game.
"I feel like I'm back to where I was. It's been a long time since I've played a real basketball game, so of course I have to get back to my rhythm," she said. "I feel like I'm getting every better every day, and I have confidence that I'll be back to where I was, or even better."
Robert Munoz is a writer for WyoSports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rmunoz307.