Kylee Shook learned her basketball dreams came true from the place where they all began. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Shook — a former Mesa Ridge High School star who set Colorado prep records for career blocks, rebounds, double-doubles and triple-doubles — watched on TV with her family in Colorado Springs in April when a familiar name flashed across the screen.
With the No. 13 overall pick of the 2020 WNBA draft, the New York Liberty selected Shook.
“We were all jumping around and congratulating each other. It was surreal and a moment I’ll never forget,” Shook told the Denver Post on Friday. “There’s no way to describe it because you work so hard for something and then, finally, you get a chance to achieve your goal.”
Shook, a 6-foot-4 forward, was a five-star high school recruit who lived up to the hype at Louisville. She became the program’s all-time leader in blocks (223) and garnered ACC Defensive Player of the Year and All-ACC first-team honors as a senior.
Her leap to the WNBA marks just the ninth time in Colorado history that a girls’ basketball player went on to be drafted in the pros — with none selected higher than Shook, according to CHSAA. She hopes the trend continues.
“I feel like Colorado can be put on the map with athletes,” Shook said. “We just keep getting better and better as the years go on. Next year, I’m sure Michaela Onyenwere (Grandview to UCLA) will get drafted. That will be an extra person to add on to the list.
“It feels great representing my state. When I come back, I try to do my best to talk with people and visit gyms that helped me out on my journey.”
To prevent the spread of coronavirus, the WNBA will play its 2020 season on a shortened 22-game schedule (followed by a traditional playoff format) while isolated at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Shook arrived in New York last week to begin voluntary team workouts; one hour per day in the gym, masked, with a single rebounder for practice help. Team meetings are held on video chat.
Shook is confident the league has taken health precautions seriously, with a COVID-19 intake exam for players followed by regular temperature and symptom checks. The WNBA season is expected to begin in late July.
“There are nerves because of the whole COVID situation. And this is a higher level where everything is different and you’re going against the best — idols who I’ve looked up to forever,” Shook said. “There is a mix of emotions, but I’m ready.”