Besides no national championships, what do coaches Dawn Staley (South Carolina), Jolette Law (Illinois), Gail Goestenkors (Texas) and Gary Blair (Texas A&M) have in common? Answer: No. 2 player in the 2009 class, Kelsey Bone.
The Gamecocks, Longhorns, Aggies and Fighting Illini are all on the 6-foot-5 post player’s final list, and according to Bone, they all stand equivalent.
“None of (the coaches) have won a national title, and that’s what they all want,” said the Dulles High senior from Houston. “I’m thinking, ‘why can’t I be the one to get them there?’”
That’s just the confidence Bone has within herself, but with versatility like she has, it’s hard to deny that winning attitude.
“I think I can bring to a team a different type of post player that’s not just restricted to the block. I want to be able to do all things possible - break the press, hit the outside shot, hit the high post shot. I want to have all the things in my arsenal. I want to be the rookie of the year (conference and national). I want to win national player of the year awards.”
Bone’s versatility shows up in the stat sheets as well. According to her high school coach Doug Lechtenberger, she averaged 17.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.6 assist, 1.8 steals and 1.9 blocks per game as a junior, while shooting 54 percent from the field and 47 percent from the line.
“More than likely, some people will have her at center, but she can play some forward too,” Lechtenberger said. “She shoots the ball well and handles it well for her size. She has versatility for her size.”
Bone most recently visited South Carolina last weekend, and the weekend before that, she was at Texas A&M. She’ll visit Illinois this weekend and Texas the following weekend.
All four of the coaches made home visits this week, but because Texas A&M’s visit was so early in the recruiting window, they were the only school that wasn’t able to get a home visit before Bone’s on-campus official visit of the final four.
But that’s not necessarily a disadvantage for the Aggies, as they’ve been on Bone’s radar for a while now.
“I was playing on a 17-and-under team since I was in the eighth grade, so I started making noise then,” Bone said. “The team (Houston Elite) that I played on had a lot of ties to players with Texas A&M.
“I’ve been recruited by Texas A&M since I was in eighth grade. I’m really familiar with the coaches and the players. I’ve taken quite a few (unofficial visits) since I was a freshman.”
But according to Bone, both of her official visits went well.
“I’ve been floored on the past two visits. Both visits were successful at wowing (her and her mom).”
And even though Blair’s rings and approach have really caught Bone’s attention, it’s Staley that captures her as a person. “She epitomizes everything I want,” Bone said.
Bone loves the things that Staley has accomplished as an individual, and that’s the things she wants for herself.
“I had a really good time on my S.C. visit. Coach Staley and coach Boyer have been recruiting me since they were at Temple. We had a good relationship,” Bone said. “The relationship is really really good. Once they made a change from the Atlantic 10 to the SEC, I was intrigued. The SEC is one of the most powerful conferences. Being in the SEC, that became a really good thing in my mind.”
Relationships are something that is really important to Bone, as her relationship with her mom is very strong. Her mom, Kim Williams, has been really instrumental in Bone’s recruiting process.
“As a mom, I don’t I have a preference (on her decision) per say,” Williams said. “One thing I’ve tried to do through this is help Kelsey keep a clear perspective of things. I go on the trips with her and look for the things like that.
“I’m using this to help her make decision. And whatever choice she makes, I’m going to feel good about it because it’s been a learning tool. It’s a part of the growing process for her.”
One decision Bone’s mom didn’t have to help her make was the cutting of Tennessee from her final five schools.
“Tennessee was in my final five, and I knew it was going to be a first-come, first-serve. They were looking at me and Taber (Spani), but she committed first.”
Tennessee is not the only school on her final list that has been in the mix recently.
“Once I came out with my five, (Rutgers) were still interested in me and contacted my mom and asked her if they could come for a home visit and see if we were interested after that.”
Even though the Rutgers staff came to her house on Sept. 24, Bone’s sticking with her final four for now. However, she’s still listening to what Rutgers has to say at the current moment.
“We’re really not sure (about Rutgers); we haven’t had time to sit down on that particular situation.”
With only one official visit left for Bone and the in-home visit period ending on Oct. 5, the senior and her mother plan to sit down sometime Monday and sort some things out with a chance for the two to catch their breath.
“Depending on how my mom and I feel when I’m done with everything, there’s a possibility that (my decision) can happen in November,” Bone said. “But if we’re not comfortable with making the decision, then we won’t rush it because it is a very important decision for us. But who knows what’s going to happen in the next three weeks.”
As far as proximity, that’s not too big of an issue for the pair, who live within about two hours of the two Texas schools. The fact that her mom and the rest of the family can see her play if she’s close to home is enticing, but at the end of the day, Williams said she supports her daughter either way.
As far as her mother’s take on her recent official visits, both the schools impressed her as well.
“We got to spend some good quality time with coach Staley and her staff. We saw the university, and I was pleasantly surprised. South Carolina did just as good of a job as Texas A&M the week before.”
On tour with Bone was another top-five player in nation in Markel Walker from Pittsburgh. Walker is ranked fourth in the ’09 class and is a 6-1 wing.
“Markel and I played against each other in April. We developed a little relationship, and we’ve become quite good friends. The opportunity is out there to play with each other, but we have to make sure everything else is in place. We have to make sure everything else is there individually before we can base it on one another.”
South Carolina is the only school the pair has in common at this time.
Bone likes what each school brings to the table, and each of them is on her final list for different reasons.
“It’s been a really good, rather interesting experience,” Bone said. “I’m looking forward to coming to a decision sometime soon.”