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Getting To Know U: Freshman Kelsey Rees

Sep 23, 2020

Head coach Lynne Roberts' excitement over signing freshman Kelsey Rees was obvious when she described her versatility on the court as a 6-5 forward with the Australian's ability to shoot the three, run the floor and rebound, and now that Rees is in Salt Lake City training with the team, that excitement has continued to grow. Rees has seen extensive action with Team Australia, leading them to a golf medal at the U17 FIBA Women's Oceania Championship while earning a spot on the All-Star Five team. caught up with the newcomer to talk about her favorite parts of Australia, the tradition of basketball in her family, and why she chose to come to Utah to continue her basketball career.

Q: What was it like growing up in Glenelg North, South Australia and what kinds of things would you do in your free time?
Growing up, I moved around a lot, living in Brisbane (Queensland), Penguin (Tasmania) and Adelaide (South Australia) before moving to Canberra to follow basketball in 2018. Growing up in Glenelg I was lucky. I lived right across the road from the beach, so I would spend all my free time there. If I wasn't at the beach I would be playing basketball in the yard, on a bike ride with my family, playing backyard cricket with my siblings or inside reading a book.

Q: Your family has a rich history in basketball, what was it like growing up with two parents who played the sport professionally?
Growing up with parents who played definitely gave me an advantage. Funny enough, they did not want to force basketball onto us, so we played every other sport you could think of. However, I would spend countless hours in the stadium while they were playing or coaching or my other siblings were training. This meant that the basketball community became my family and I would be out there shooting or playing against other kids all the time. It became something I loved. I think they were happy that's what I chose. I could discuss concepts with them and they were able to teach me new moves and help me with my shot or footwork. They were always happy to be at the courts with me practicing and they gave up a lot of their time driving my siblings and I around to practices and games and watching us play. I was lucky though while they never stopped giving me advice, it was always about me doing my best so there was never pressure from them.

Q: Who would you say you take after most in your family and why?
That's a tough one. I think I take after both my parents a little bit. I got my competitive side from my dad and my calculating and decision making from my mum, and height from both.

Q: With your older sister, Darcy (Washington) already in the Pac-12, did she play a part in you wanting to further your career in the U.S.?
Definitely. From the start of high school one of my goals was to play college basketball but at that time it wasn't yet a huge pathway for Australians, so I didn't know too much about the different conferences or how it all worked. Hearing about her experiences and watching Darcy play influenced where I wanted to end up. Seeing the level of competition she was against and how much she had improved made me want to join the Pac-12. Plus, I am excited to play against her.

Q: What did it mean to you to be able to play for Team Australia and represent your country in international tournaments?
Playing for Australia is huge to me. I have been lucky enough to represent my country twice, first at the U16 Asian tournament and just last year at the U17 Oceania's. It is something I dreamed about and worked towards and I took a lot of pride out of wearing the Australian jersey. It is an amazing experience and feeling and my ultimate goal would be to represent Australia at an Olympics one day.

Q: What was important to you while looking for a school to continue your career at?
The most important things when looking for a school for me were the people and the opportunity to develop my basketball skills.

Q: How would you describe your style of play in just three words?
Rebound, run, compete.

Q: Who is your favorite professional basketball player and why?
I do not have a favorite player but recently I have been training alongside Opals players Marianna Tolo and Kelsey Griffin, both amazing players who I look up to in not only the way they play, but also how they carry themselves off the court. I have also been watching and enjoying the way Cayla George plays.

Q: If you could go pro in a sport other than basketball, what would it be and why?
I would have to say AFLW (Australian Women's Football League). I grew up playing footy in my backyard and watch my home team with my family every weekend. It is a very competitive, physical game and a lot of fun, but only recently has a professional women's league been developed.

Q: What do you plan to study at the U. and why?
I haven't decide on my major yet but I am looking at something in the sciences or possibly recreational therapy. I would like to pursue a role in the medical field as I enjoy helping people.

Q: Do you have any hidden talents or skills that our fans don't know about?
No, not really. During my rehab from a shoulder injury, I learnt to tie my shoes with one hand and I play a little guitar, I also held the family record for pogo stick jumping.

Q: What about Utah made you want to play here?
I just loved the feel I got from the coaches, players and staff during my visit. I wanted to go to a school in a good conference and somewhere I am able to develop my basketball skills. I also wanted somewhere I felt comfortable. I felt that Utah was that place.