Sport 'Wow, I'm here': Rookie Kysre Gondrezick ready to burn bright with WNBA's Indiana Fever

17:40  15 may  2021
17:40  15 may  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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Perhaps the biggest shock at last month's WNBA draft was Kysre Gondrezick, who was selected with the No. 4 overall pick by the Indiana Fever. Few analysts had the West Virginia star going in the first round — and certainly not in the top five — but the 5-foot-9 guard wasn't surprised.

Gondrezick, a WBCA honorable mention All-American, averaged 19.5 points, 4.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds for the Mountaineers in the 2020-21 season. She transferred to West Virginia after her freshman year from Michigan, where she was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and the All-Big Ten Second Team. She ended her senior campaign with the Mountaineers earning a unanimous selection to the All-Big 12 First Team, becoming the rare player to earn all-league accolades with two different conferences.

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So, despite projections from pundits, Gondrezick was confident she would be chosen within the first 12 picks.

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“I had a feeling though that I was going to go at least first round, just from all of the interactions and meetings that I had with the coaches that had picks in those first 12,” Gondrezick told USA TODAY Sports. “The relationship that I built through Zoom meetings and the interactions that the coaches and I had on the phone and just their loyalty they had watching me from the beginning of the season all the way to the end. I had a good feeling that they would take me as their top and priority pick.”

Indiana Fever rookie Kysre Gondrezick sets up to shoot during training camp. © Indiana Fever Indiana Fever rookie Kysre Gondrezick sets up to shoot during training camp.

Coming off of a 6-16 season, the Fever's front office secured a shooter that the franchise can put to immediate use. Indiana tips off the season Friday at 7 p.m. ET against the New York Liberty.

“It has been a great fit for me here,” said Gondrezick, noting that she feels very good in where she landed because Indiana’s pick-and-roll oriented play allows her to be her best self.

“I am coming into a system that is already very familiar for me coming from under the instruction of coach (Mike) Carey and the motion defense and offense.”

Earlier this month, Gondrezick, 23, signed a multi-year deal with Adidas that has positioned her to become the face of Adidas basketball for the next generation.

“Having that conversation and building that relationship with that entire entity of Adidas both on the women's and men's side has been exciting, and I can't wait to further extend my brand underneath their brand and all that they have in store for me because it is going to be huge,” Gondrezick said.

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In addition to expanding her brand under Adidas, Gondrezick hopes to use that platform to inspire change.

“People place a high emphasis and importance on athletes and the role that sports play is huge, so when you have players able to speak on things and speak on how other people may feel and use our platform to express is so important.

"Life is all about challenges and it is one of our responsibilities to change systems, to challenge ideas and use our platform to do just that.”

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Gondrezick is looking forward to her regular-season debut and all of the things that make playing in the league different from playing in college.

"The girls are a lot bigger and a lot faster, but the game is pretty much the same. I like to consider myself a very high IQ player, so being able to come in and read things within the offense, I would say my biggest challenge is defensive. You don’t just get to sit in the paint like how we were taught growing up. You can get a tech for that now,” Gondrezick said jokingly.

It finally dawned on Gondrezick that she had made it to the WNBA during a preseason game when she was warming up on the same court as Chicago Sky’s Candace Parker.

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Trying not to become star-struck, Gondrezick gazed at Parker and thought to herself, "Wow, I am here. I made it here on this platform."

"From Candace Parker to Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, all of those girls — yhose are the girls that I watched growing up," Gondrezick said. "I made it here on this platform and know that those women paved the way for me.”

Beyond the game, Gonderzick hopes her legacy will include the woman she is off of the court.

"I am very big on who I am off the court. Basketball is what I do, but it doesn’t define who I am," she said. “I feel like the way I carry myself off the court, the way I represent my brand, the Indiana organization and being able to come compete at the highest level in women’s basketball — I just want to be remembered as someone who is very multifaceted who didn’t allow herself to be put in a box.”

Contact Analis Bailey at aabailey@usatoday.com or on Twitter @analisbailey.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Wow, I'm here': Rookie Kysre Gondrezick ready to burn bright with WNBA's Indiana Fever

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