Number five draft pick Kelsey Bone shares her interactions with Liberty players and coaching staff and discusses what she looks forward to in her rookie season with the New York Liberty.
It's been a whirlwind week. What was the response like when you returned to campus after the WNBA draft?
I woke up this morning and said to myself, "man! I have to go to school!?" It's back to reality here. When I came back to campus everyone was so excited. It means a lot. The Texas A&M women's basketball program went from non-existent to one of the best and I'm the highest draftee ever in our program. It is special and students have been so happy for us. They say, "I'm a New York Liberty fan now!"
Do you have a close-knit family? What did they say to you after being drafted by the Liberty?
Yes, we are close. Right after I was drafted my cousin texted me saying "We will be in San Antonio on July 25th." They had already looked at the schedule! We have a few athletes in my family. My cousins were very close to playing pro football but were sidelined with injuries. I'm the first to break the seal into the professional level and put my family name out there.
You will have the opportunity to play alongside seasoned vets in the paint with Plenette Pierson, Kara Braxton and Cheryl Ford. What do you hope to learn from them?
Oh my goodness. I don't think I can put it to words They are probably going to be annoyed by me because I'm going to attach myself to them by the hip! Their knowledge, experience, championships and understanding of playing for Laimbeer are so valuable. I want to know what they know. Whatever they're putting out I want to, too. I don't think I could be in a better spot.
What do you hope your impact on the court will be in your rookie season?
My impact could be unique. Some of the players are later in their careers while I am new and eager to learn. I have major respect for them, but at the same time I have no problem coming in and competing. I want to compete with them and learn from them. I feel like if I'm able to compete with this caliber of women in practice every day the games will be a breeze. They are physical and they don't mind banging. These are all things I love and it's hard to find that. I feel I am a younger version of them. I want to mirror their impact on the game and I'm lucky because I have the best tutors.
You mentioned watching Plenette Pierson when she was playing high school ball in Houston? So, you're a Pierson fan?
Yes. Plenette is from Houston, like me. I remember watching her in high school. She was so mean; I loved her game! Through social media we've been able to stay loosely in touch over the years. She recently hit me up to say good luck before the draft and Cappie Pondexter sent me a DM on twitter with her phone number saying if I needed anything or had any questions to let her know. With the way they've received me with open arms I feel very excited.
What did Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer say to you at the draft? What were your first impressions?
Bill spoke at rookie orientation. It was my first time hearing him speak in person. He is definitely an acquired taste. He's not for everyone. (Laughs) And I liked him. I liked that he demands respect. You have to respect his knowledge and his success at all levels. I found him to be very funny! It's interesting because at Texas A&M I played for Gary Blair, a true southern gentleman. In a way I'm going from one extreme to another!
On draft night there was a feeling of excitement. I could tell that Bill was excited about me and for me. That made me feel very good. At orientation he told us he's not a "hugger" or hug type of guy. But on draft night he gave me a big ole hug! I was like, whoa! You're giving me a hug?! It was nice.
You're also pumped about the assistant coaching staff in Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Barbara Farris, why?
Basically I respect what they did as players. They both have the recipe for success. I'm big on coaches who played ball. I'd like to get into coaching myself one day. They lived and breathed it so they just understand the players that much better and players understand them that much more.
What did coach Taj say to you?
She told me that they love that I can bang inside but that they want me to knock down a high post shot and play off the box more than I may have in college. I think people will be surprised at my skill level on other spots on the floor. I had to fill a role at Texas A&M but I feel I can be even more that that. I've worked on conditioning, I want to run and enjoy getting easy baskets, too!
What is a nickname you were given when playing at Texas A&M?
Either KB or Bone. Usually KB.
There are now three "KBs" in the organization: you, Kara Braxton, and vice president of marketing and business operations for the New York Liberty, Kristin Bernert. Who will get to keep the nickname of KB?<br />
That's so funny because I met Kristin Bernert at the draft and Taj was joking about how to not mix us all up. We'll figure something out. If someone says, "KB", I'm just going to be ready in case it's me.