There was little doubt that West Virginia basketball standout Kysre Gondrezick would be selected at some point during the 2021 WNBA Draft. It was more just a question of when she would go.
Most mock drafts leading up to the three-round draft Thursday night had the former Mountaineer being a late second- or early third-round pick. Few, if any, had Gondrezick being selected in the first round and virtually nobody, not even Gondrezick herself, thought she would be picked by the Indiana Fever with the fourth-overall selection.
“No, I didn’t [expect to be picked that high], but I just felt something with Indiana,” Gondrezick said during her post-draft press conference. “When I did my Zoom call with them, the interaction was very transparent and genuine. I felt like I could be myself and they gravitated towards that.”
When WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert came to the podium to announce the Fever’s pick, Gondrezick had a friend start to record her and her mother’s reaction, just in case. It turned out to be a good bet, as the resulting video of their reactions speaks for itself:
— Indiana Fever ⛹️♀️🏀 (@IndianaFever) April 16, 2021
“I was surprised, but then I had to get to a place where I could give myself permission to pat myself on the back,” Gondrezick said. “We caught all the emotion [on camera] and I couldn’t be more happy and humbled. I’m just ready to get started, I’m ready to fly out tonight if I could.”
With the selection, Gondrezick became the highest draft pick in WVU program history. Indiana Fever general manager Tamika Cummings explained that Gondrazick rose to the top of their draft board because of her ability to score and her intangibles off the court.
“We came into tonight really focused on we need scorers and we need championship-caliber players in our organization,” Catchings said. “She’s a scorer, inside and outside, she’s a great defender and I think the quality we really focused on was the championship mentality, that’s what she has.”
Gondrezick was a unanimous First Team All-Big 12 selection and an All-American honorable mention after scoring a career-high 19.5 points per game this season for WVU. This season, she led WVU to a Big 12 Championship appearance and to the second round of the NCAA women’s tournament.
“We picked the player that best fit [the needs] for our team,” Catching said. “Not to go against anybody that does a mock draft, but I feel like the right players get selected to the right teams and Kysre’s the right player for our team.”
A native of Benton Harbor, Michigan, Gondrezick will play home games with the Fever just three hours away from her where she grew up. Gondrezick signed with Michigan coming out of high school, only about two and half hours away, but transfer to WVU after only one season.
She said transferring to WVU and moving away from her home state allowed her to grow and mature as both a basketball player and a person.
“God works in mysterious ways,” Gondrazick said. “He put me on a path and a journey to grow up, just to be able to come back [home]. So for me, this is huge.”
“The biggest reason [we wanted her] is what she brings to the table,” Catching said. “And she’s somebody that wants to be in Indy. You could tell when we had the phone call with her afterward, she was excited, you could hear the excitement in the room and we were definitely excited to have the opportunity to pick her.”
Gondrezick was the first of seven players the Fever drafted Thursday night:
- Round 1, Pick 4 – Kysre Gondrezick (West Virginia)
- Round 1, Pick 11 – Aaliyah Wilson (Texas A&M)
- Round 2, Pick 19 – Unique Thompson (Auburn)
- Round 2, Pick 24 – Trinity Baptiste (Arizona)
- Round 3, Pick 26 – Chelsey Perry (UT Martin)
- Round 3, Pick 31 – Florencia Chagas (Argentina)
- Round 3, Pick 33 – Maya Caldwell (Georgia)