A conversation with Michigan native Kysre Gondrezick, rookie with WNBA’s Indiana Fever

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 03: Kysre Gondrezick #4 of the Indiana Fever warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Sparks at Los Angeles Convention Center on June 03, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) (Meg Oliphant, 2021 Meg Oliphant)

Benton Harbor native Kysre Gondrezick has been living out her basketball dreams after being taken at No. 4 in the WNBA Draft and becoming a member of the Indiana Fever.

“It was an amazing feeling, I still to this don’t know till this day how to put it all into words,” she said.

Gondrezick and her family are no stranger to the hardwood as basketball runs in their blood with her father, Grant, being a former college and NBA player while her mom also had a college basketball career at Louisiana Tech. Her sister, Kalabrya, played in college at Michigan State and her younger brother, Grant Gondrezick II, plays at Lakeshore High School.

Kysre is a piece of this legacy and remembers having a basketball in her hand at a very young age.

“If I can remember, it was out of the womb,” she said in reference to how early she began playing the sport.

Not only did she start playing the sport at a young age but she also was exposed to the WNBA during her childhood.

“At the time I was in Houston, Texas and one of my next-door neighbors was Dan Chancellor, the head coach of the Houston Comets at the time,” she said. “We used to always go to the games back when the WNBA was really hot. You had Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson, we used to be around the women a lot.”

High school star

Her childhood time spent with the Comets furthered her love for the game, and more than likely laid the foundation for Kysre to go on to have a successful high school career at Benton Harbor High School. While a Tiger, Gondrezick averaged 40 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals just in her senior season alone. She was coached by her mother, Lisa Harvey, who she said was a lot harder on her than people think.

She credits her scoring ability in high school to her team, versatility and long hours in the gym.

“One thing that I have always had the ability to do was to score and put the ball in the basket in multiple ways,” she said. “I had the opportunity to be a part of a team that allowed me to do incredible things.”

Some of those incredible things include scoring 72 points in a playoff game and becoming Michigan’s Miss Basketball and was the first Benton Harbor High school women’s player to do so.

“Having the ability to and the freedom to accomplish those things was because I had girls that were willing to give up their bodies and screening the players hard to try and get me open shots,” she said.

Gondrezick went on to finish her career with 2,827 points and sits at. No. 2 in women’s basketball history in scoring for the state of Michigan. She was also named Michigan’s Gatorade Basketball player of the year and Detroit Athletic Club Female Athlete of the Year.

University of Michigan

She went on and got her collegiate basketball career start at the University of Michigan.

“Being at the University of Michigan and being able to start my collegiate career there at the time is still something I cherish to this day,” she said.

Transitioning from high school to college was exciting for her, but she was met with some adversity.

“The transition wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” she said “The conditioning was definitely the biggest challenge for me because I wasn’t used to just flat out running. I was always taught to do it with a ball in my hand.”

During her time in Ann Arbor, Gondrezick lit up the stat sheet and took home some more honors and awards. She was named All-Big Ten Second Team, Big Ten All-Freshman Team and the Big Ten Freshman of the Week six times.

She also led all Big Ten freshmen with 14 points per game, along with 3 rebounds and scored in double figures in 24 games out of the 33 she played.

Transfer to West Virginia: ‘I needed to just get away from home’

After her first year with the Wolverines, Gondrezick decided to transfer to West Virginia University. She said this was her own decision.

“It was my decision. I made a decision to leave and I had to trust my instincts as to what I wanted to do. Being able to have the influence of my family and being around during my career was important at first,” she said. “But I think as the season progressed and who I was developed, as a young lady, I needed to just get away from home and find out things on my own and to be challenged to making that transition to adulthood. That’s what college prepared me for. I still have relationships and connections that I built from there that I still carry on until this day.”

She credits the transfer as one of the best decisions she has made in her life so far. She had a successful career there as well. As a Mountaineer, she averaged 13 points and 4 assists per game in her first season and was the leading the team in scoring both her second and final season with the university.

During her time with the squad this past season, she led the team to the second round of the NCAA tournament which was a first for Gondrezick.

“It was great. I went under the terms of the COVID restrictions. Things were a little different than it would’ve been normally in the regular NCAA tournament, but being able to have the opportunity to just get there and see what the game is like at that level versus teams in other conferences was definitely an accomplishment for me,” she said.

Drafted into WNBA

After her time at WVU ended Gondrezick entered her name into the WNBA Draft and was picked up in the first round at No. 4 by the Indiana Fever.

“Seeing my name across the screen and knowing that I was the fourth pick is something that no one can ever take from me,” she said.

She continued by describing her excitement to be with the organization and how she has built a relationship with Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings who is also the team’s general manager and Vice President of basketball operations.

Her draft into the WNBA caught the attention of Adidas -- Gondrezick has signed a three-year shoe deal with the brand and is dubbed the next generation of Adidas Basketball.

“The whole Adidas thing was exciting news,” she said. “I came out of practice and it was all over the place. I was proud to know that I would be able to be in a role that was going to make an impact. One of the things I advocate for are the people that are coming behind me, it’s always about next up.”

She said there are ideas and things that are planned with the brand that she cannot speak about right now, but that those conversations have been going well and she is building relationships with other players who are with the brand.

Now, entering into her rookie season, Gondrezick has been learning a lot from the Fever staff and tackling the challenges that come her way.

“It’s had its highs and lows but I accepted the fact that this season will be a learning and a teaching year especially since it’s my rookie year,” she said. “Having a high basketball IQ and picking up on things quickly have helped me. I would say head coach Marianne has taught me some things both offensively and defensively.”

She also had to adjust to the physicality and speed of the game but credits working out with the coaching staff and talking with Catchings as a way to ground herself and get better.

While striving to get better, the rookie has hopes for her WNBA career overall.

“I plan on being around as long as I can. I love the game. I love basketball and how it’s created and shaped my lifestyle of where I’m at today,” she said.

You can catch the rookie and her squad after the Olympic break on Aug. 15 as the team goes head-to-head with the Los Angeles Sparks.

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