Can you remember the best basketball game you ever played?
Michigan guard Kysre Gondrezick kind of forgot about hers. I mean, it was a game that’s virtually impossible to entirely forget; but it’s been in the back of her mind for awhile now.
It was February 29, 2016. Benton Harbor High was taking on Buchanan in the opening game of the state tournament. All Gondrezick did that evening was drop 72 of her team’s 80 total points (49 of their 51 after halftime), including the game-winner in double-overtime. Yes, you read all that correctly.
“I actually was watching highlights from it the other night,” Kysre told me. “I had forgot that it happened. You know, in your transition from high school to college, you got to move on to the next one. Prepare for the next level.”
Those moments tend to slip from your mind a little easier when you average 40.5 points a game that year, finishing as the No.2 scorer in Michigan girl’s basketball history and taking home the Michigan Miss Basketball award. At the time it was happening, Kysre wasn’t even aware that she was bound for the state-record. “I had no idea I had scored that many points. My main focus was just winning. At the end of the game, they notified me that I scored 72 points [laughs]. And I was pretty excited about that, but I was more excited that we had another shot to play, and to make my senior season last longer.”
Kysre comes from a basketball family. A serious basketball family. Her father, Grant Gondrezick, played at Pepperdine before going on to the NBA. He appeared in two seasons–one with the Suns (1986-87) and one with the Clippers (1988-89)–and also spent a number of years balling overseas. Grant’s older brother, Glenn, was a star at UNLV before being drafted by the Knicks in the second round of the 1977 draft. Kysre’s mother, Lisa, won a national championship at Louisiana Tech in 1988. She is now the coach at Benton Harbor. And finally, Kysre’s sister, Kalabrya, is a sophomore on Michigan State.
“Growing up, I can’t say we really had too much of a choice,” Kysre said, chuckling. “It was second nature for us. Just following the footsteps that were paved… Once we got in the gym, we never stopped.”
And Kysre and Kalabrya were in the gym early.
Kysre recalls picking up a ball around the age of five, but it was at 8-years-old that she truly fell in love with the game. That was when she joined the Houston Hotshots, an AAU team absolutely stacked with talent.
There was Brianna Turner, now a forward at Notre Dame who is one of the top players in the country. Brooke McCarty, a guard at Texas who was First Team All-Big 12. Dominique Dillingham, a guard at Mississippi State who was All-SEC Honorable Mention. And then the Gondrezicks. Talk about Hotshots.
It was competing with this elite group–girls who had a similar dream of following basketball–that sparked Kysre’s intense commitment to the game. From there, she went on to become a star at Benton, eventually earning a spot at the University of Michigan.
As a freshman, Kysre is already turning heads. She averaged 15.1 points during the regular season, shooting an impressive 44% from behind the arc. It’s no shock, based on that 72-point performance alone, that Kysre can be lethal offensively. But it’s the variety of ways in which she can breakdown a defense that is so striking. Kysre takes pride in combing three different elements to get buckets – attacking the paint, knocking down the three consistently, and the lost art of the mid-range. That last one was something her father emphasized growing up.
But Kysre is more than just a scorer, and she’s shown that throughout her first year. On January 10, she put up 17 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds against Indiana. January 25 – 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists against Northwestern. February 5 – 23 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and a career-high 6 steals against Iowa.
“I think everyone coins me as a scorer, but really, I believe I’m much more of a playmaker,” Kysre explained. “I get more excited passing the ball than I do scoring it.”
The tremendous impact Kysre has had didn’t just take U-Mich by storm; it surprised Kysre herself. During the summer, she recalls calling home in tears, overwhelmed by the transition to the college level. The girls were faster, stronger, and more skilled, and Kysre just didn’t think she could keep up. “You might as well laminate all those newspaper articles I have [from high school],” she told her mom, “because that’s about all I’m going to accomplish.’” How wrong she was.
Five-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week. One-time Big Ten Player of the Week. Kysre helped lead Michigan to one of their best seasons in program history. They finished 22-9 and were considered by many to be a snub from the NCAA tournament. Winners of their first two NIT games, UM is set to take on St. Johns this Thursday.
As for Ksyre’s personal goals going forward, just take it one day at a time.
But even she must admit, as most have already realized, the potential is there.