Recognition for Texas A&M women’s basketball program is on the rise on the national scene once again, primarily due to the talents and leadership of Kelsey Bone, who was recognized on January 7 as the SEC Player of the Week, in the first week of 2013, in the Aggies’ inaugural season in the SEC.
It’s been a stellar week for Aggie women’s basketball, as Bone led her team to 3 consecutive wins, including going 2 for 2 in SEC play, including a win on the road at the University of Arkansas on Sunday, January 6. Kelsey’s numbers were very impressive, averaging 18.3 points and 14 rebounds per game, and recording double-doubles in all 3 games.
Free throws have becomes Kelsey’s newest strength, and her most recent three-game average is 86.7% on free throw shooting (13 of 15), and she’s shooting 56.8% from the floor.
In SEC numbers, Bone ranks first, with a 61.1% field-goal percentage, first in rebounds (10 per game), and second in points per game (17.8). It’s also relevant to note that, from the beginning of the season, the Aggies faced top-ranked opponents such as #2 U Conn, and #9 Penn State and (then) #9 Louisville. The Aggies were handed their heads on a platter by the nation’s top teams, on national television to boot, but that is the most important aspect of Bone’s spirit being key to leading her team to get back up off the floor, dig in, work harder and play as she says, “to bring your best game and leave everything you have on the floor.” And they have, which is nothing new for Kelsey.
Honors, accolades, and attention were always a part of Bone’s high school career, not to mention Kelsey’s being named by the Associated Press as the SEC Newcomer of the Year as a freshman. The Houston native and Dulles High School alumnus, played her first college year for the University of South Carolina, where her career high at that point was 32 points.
The 6’4” center made a great sacrifice in momentum, having to learn a new system, and a potential position of prominence in the media spotlight to come back to Texas, but it was more important for Kelsey to be closer to home. Imagine how hard it was to sit on the bench for her academic sophomore year as the Aggies, led by Danielle Adams, and the “two Sydneys” (Colson and Carter) were playing their hearts out, and Bone was benched, following the NCAA transfer rules.
She made good use of her time, though, as she “wrote the blog “Kicking it with Kelsey” for aggieathletics.com,” and for two years, has now been the host of the Aggie Women’s Basketball show, produced monthly during the season by “12th Man Productions” and shown at the Gary Blair basketball luncheons. Bone is charming to speak with and her effusiveness for the game and her devotion to her team is uppermost on her mind. They are her family and she readily accepts a leadership role, on and off the court.
Before the home game against Arkansas on Sunday, January 6, Aggie Head Coach Gary Blair presented Bone with another accolade, the game ball in recognition of her 1,000th career point, garnered on Thursday, December 20, as the Aggies beat Old Dominion during the World Vision Classic in Las Vegas, Nevada. The preceding month, Bone had been named the Most Valuable Player in the inaugural A&M Classic invitational, where the Aggies hosted Southern and Marquette.
The week ahead for the Aggies features another road trip to face #6 Kentucky and a return game on Sunday, January 13 to face Auburn at Reed Arena. This Sunday’s game will mark the final half-priced Holiday Hoops discount tickets for admission, and the crowds for women’s games have actually outnumbered the men’s games. And, Kelsey Bone, to be sure, is one of those reasons for the growing crowds, who appreciate her talent on the court and her leadership on the team.
Don’t expect to see any self-aggrandizing fist pumps when she makes records either. It’s just fun to watch Kelsey as she racks up rebounds, stacks up defenders into a nice pile that she just shoots over, and packs the ball into the net. Her reactions are limited to a small smile, perhaps a single clap of her hands, and then she’ll point her way down to the other end of the court, where she’s ready to rock on defense.
What you will see Kelsey Bone fired up about is the excellent play of her teammates, whom she has highlighted, celebrated, and encouraged at every opportunity. There’s definitely a family among the Aggie players, and Bone and Kristi Bellock are like sisters; they’re roomates too, so whenever one makes a basket, the other is proud. As Bone’s talent as a defender has been strengthened (secret weapon Associate Head Coach Bob Starkey is known for such things), she’s just as likely to kick the ball out to senior Adrienne Pratcher or freshmen, Courtney Williams and Peyton Little for the 3-point attempt. So far, that lineup on the court is working well.
Bone is quick to recognize and respect great play from her teammate Karla Gilbert and the debut play of Rachel Mitchell this year. That’s what families are for, and to a person, the Aggie team appreciates and celebrates Kelsey Bone with each bucket, rebound, and record-breaking game. No one, however, appreciates Bone’s play as much as the loyal Aggie women’s basketball crowd, who get there early and stay late to cheer her on. Bone's mentor, Associate Head Coach Kelly Bond-White, has taught her well.
If you’re already out in the parking lot by the final buzzer, listening to Mike Wright and Tap Bentz interviewing people in their post-game show, you’re missing out on something pretty special still going on inside Reed Arena. After the game, Kelsey Bone, no matter how worn out she might be from playing her best, will stand there and sign as many posters, programs, and game balls as every little child (and adult) ask her to sign for them.
That moment of connectivity is enhanced by Bone looking straight into the eyes of the child for whom she is signing, and her sincere smile is something they’ll never forget. Those children grow up to play high school basketball, and they’ll always remember the time Kelsey Bone, and her team, shared with them, for the love of the game, and for the love of Texas A&M.