Kelsey Bone’s commitment moved Dawn Staley’s 2009 Gamecock recruiting class up among the nation’s premier signing classes. After Bone and her mother Kim Williams gave USC her letter-of-intent, they gave Scout.com’s Joshua Capers an exclusive interview. Read inside as the McDonald’s All-American and her mother and role model talk about her decision, her goals, and why she chose South Carolina.
Kim Williams has never dribbled a basketball, but when given the opportunity, she used Dr. James Naismith’s invention as a guide to teach Scout.com’s No. 5 female in the 2009 class life lessons.
Kelsey Bone cut her list down to four schools – South Carolina, Illinois, Texas A&M and Texas — in the fall, but when the early signing period came, the 6-foot-5 post player struggled with her decision and didn’t feel ready.
“I just didn’t want to have to rush with the quick turn around with all of my visits,” Bone said about her decision to wait until the late-signing period. “It helped me think everything out and think everything through.”
A decision like that is the maturity that Williams hoped her daughter would learn through this whole process, and in the end, Bone picked South Carolina in the limelight — on national TV at the McDonald’s All-American game.
“It’s very rewarding,” Williams said. “Kelsey was able to do what I wanted her to do. She was able to gather information and make a decision and really articulate her decision once she made it.”
As for what Bone had to articulate, it was her decision to become a Gamecock to those who question why she would leave Texas, a state that has such pride. And they also questioned why she would go somewhere such as Columbia, S.C.
“For me, I’ve always said that I wanted to go somewhere where I could build my own program,” said Bone, who averaged 19 points and eight rebounds in her senior year at Dulles High School in Sugar Land, Texas. “I was really impressed with what was going down there in Columbia. Their record didn’t reflect the strides they made.”
Though Bone believed in South Carolina, she really thought that she couldn’t go wrong with any school that she chose from her final four, so the bond had to be deep with the school that she picked.
“Coach Staley and her staff did a good job with selling their program, and I really bought into it,” Bone said. “I think the thing that impressed me the most was that they asked me what my goals were and what I wanted to achieve from the sport that I love. I want to do the things that they’ve done in their careers.
“A lot was said about personal growth, and everybody on the team is on the same page and everybody wants to win. Everybody in the program wants to put it on the same stratosphere as the football team.”
Before Bone gets on campus, she’s looking to take steps that will help her reach her goal of being like her coach — an Olympian.
“I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with U.S.A. basketball, and I have tryouts coming up in May (to represent the U.S. in the upcoming 19 and under world championship games in Bangkok),” Bone said. “I want to be an Olympian, and I want to put my stamp on things. I want to go to college and win and be an all-American.”
Bone has also been pursuing her ambitions in the field of communications. She has her own blog for the Houston Chronicle (http://blogs.chron.com/prepathlete/).
According to Williams, Bone will also have the chance to be close to a side of her family that never gets the chance to see her play since they live in SEC states. But now they will be able to see her play in their respective home states, and even plan to make the trek to Columbia. “They are already asking about schedules,” Williams continued.
South Carolina has now been getting looks from top prospects across the country in the upcoming classes, both because of Staley and because of Bone’s decision to be a Gamecock. This is something that Bone was hoping to do when she chose a program, and was hoping to get a school to national, perennial prominence.
“To me, that’s a really good thing about our program,” Bone said regarding other big-time recruits’ interest in South Carolina. “I can’t go and win a national championship by myself;s it takes a team. So if other big recruits are starting to look at the program because of me, that’s good.”
But at the end of the day, it’s not just the on-the-court knowledge Staley and the Gamecock family can give Bone that brought her to the program.
“I think Dawn Staley and her staff could really take her in and develop her into what she wants to be, while maintaining that spotlight that’s on her,” Williams said. “I think (the process) was a good learning tool, it was really rewarding for her. I think it was more than basketball with South Carolina.”