NORMAL — After making an official visit to Illinois State this past weekend, Kayel Newland knew where she wanted to play her college basketball.
“Getting the chance to see firsthand all of the opportunities ISU has to offer in both academics as well as basketball, I knew it was right for me,” said Newland, a 5-foot-11 guard from Liberty, Mo.
Newland plans to sign a national letter of intent with the Redbirds and first-year head coach Kristen Gillespie in November. She joins 6-2 Lexy Koudelka of Nevada, Iowa, 6-2 Anya Brooks of Plainfield South, 5-10 Ally Gietzel of Fond du Lac, Wis., and 5-8 Mary Crompton of Iowa City in Gillespie’s first full recruiting class.
“I picked Illinois State because it was the best fit for me. Coach Gillespie and her staff were by far the hardest pursuers and most caring coaches I got the chance to build relationships with during my process,” said Newland, who also had offers from Western Illinois, Penn and Dartmouth.
Newland was limited early in her junior season at Liberty while recovering from a broken foot. She still averaged 12.5 points and 4.5 rebounds while excelling from 3-point range (76 of 185, 41 percent).
“I spend a lot of time working on my shot and perfecting it beyond the arc,” she said. “I love to shoot but I also feel like sharing the ball, rebounding and my court awareness are my strong points."
Despite sitting out her freshman year with a knee injury, Newland has 148 career 3-pointers. That’s two shy of the Liberty school record.
“I love being vocal on the floor with my teammates and I'll continuously be working on my versatility,” said Newland. “I look forward to playing for Coach Gillespie and her staff and learning from them every day."
NCAA rules prohibit Gillespie from commenting on a recruit until a national letter of intent is signed.