Another week goes by in this Covid madness and another Captian Shreve senior has committed to play college basketball. This week Kiayra Ellis has committed to Coach Matt Daniels and the Arkansas State (Division 1 - Sunbelt) women's basketball program. Kiayra is our 23rd ranked prospect in the 2021 class and honestly she's probably ranked to low! The 6'0 Forward has been transitioning her game to the perimeter where she'll be expected to play at the next level. Kiayra already has a great stroke and will surprise you with how quick she can get off her feet for rebounds... as her handles continue to improve she really has a lot of upside with her size, athletic ability and natural stroke from deep!
Kiayra joins her teammate Addision Martin (#3 Ranked 2021 prospect) in committing to a dream of playing college basketball. I'm sure now they are locked into the high school season as they both try to bring Captian Shreve back to the state championship stage this year! We caught up with Kiayra for a quick Q&A as she tells her story on why she choice Arkansas State!
What stood out for you the most about Arkansas State than all of the other programs that recruited you and why did you choose Arkansas State?
"What stood out the most to me about Arkansas State was the head coach, Coach Matt Daniels. He’s the type of coach that I want coaching me & pushing me to success. The reason I choose Arkansas State was because I feel like I fit in very well with everything & because I feel wanted not just because of my talent on the court. Also because I want to be apart of their rebuilding process & lead them to an NCAA championship."
When did you first realize you had what it takes to play at the college level?
"I knew I had what it take to play at the college level after my sophomore year. I had won a state championship at Captain Shreve after that I began to have more fun with playing & became more determined than ever. After that feeling I knew I had what it takes to play on the next level after everything we had been through."
What was your recruitment like—when did it begin and when did everything really accelerate?
"Recruitment for me was good at times & bad other times. I say bad because I felt looked over at times & not worth being interested in. But for me I didn’t let that bring me down or give up. My recruitment began at the end of my sophomore year going into my junior year. Everything started to fully accelerate my junior year a lot of coaches started contacting me & watching me play more."
Why’d you decide to end your recruitment when you did?
"I decided to end it when I did because I started to get more interested in Arkansas State & out of everyone who’s been in touch with me I feel Arkansas State is where it is....I love Coach Matt’s passion & how he run things I fit very well with there style of play."
How would you characterize the Arkansas State coaches?
"I would characterize the coaches at Arkansas State by saying Coach Matt is a very passionate & determined man with a good sense of humor."
How would you describe your game and who do you model your game after?
"I would describe my game as a shot blocker who can play the big but can also bring you out to the wing & hit you with a move to score an easy bucket. I look at myself as an all around player because i can play just about every position on the floor."
"Kevin Durant & Candace Parker are the two players I look up to & model my game after."
What goals have you set for your time at Arkansas State?
"A few goals I have set for my time at Arkansas State are Helping get the team to an NCAA tournament & winning, Staying in the gym to keep my ball handling & shot consist, Work on myself mentally, and stay focused, humble, and hungry."
What was your most memorable moment during the high school career so far?
"My most memorable moment during my high school career so far is all the work & games we played to lead us to a state championship."
What is it like playing for your high school coach?
"What it’s like playing for my high school coaches...its like playing with family. There is times where I can’t stand them & times where we have a lot of fun. I love playing with & having them as a coach because they not only care about us as players but as a person too. So whenever they are getting on to us I know it’s out of love because if they were not on me that means that they don’t want what’s best for. They have taught me a lot of things especially how to be a better person off the court & on. I never knew what it was like to have a coach who truly cares & understands me until I met them."
What do you think was the biggest growth in your game that led to you getting scholarship offers?
"The biggest growth in my game that lead me to getting offers would be me playing more on the wing & taking the game serious. My freshman year I was playing to just be playing. Going into my sophomore year I began to take the game more seriously because I became aware of what I was capable of & I then began to work on myself."
Any advice you can leave to the young girls looking to follow in your footsteps?
"Advice that I would give younger girls looking to follow in my footsteps is to never give up even when times get hard never let it bring you down but make it make you want to work harder. Trust & believe in yourself. Always keep working because nothing is handed to you, you have to work for the things you want to accomplish. Also listen to your coaches they will never tell you wrong."
What major do you plan on studying in college?
Who had the most influence on you making your decision?
"Both my mom & I had the most influence on making my decision because I had to think what was best for me & my family."
How do you balance being a student an athlete and your social life?
"The way I balance being a student & an athlete is I stay ahead of my school work so I won’t have to worry about it later. So that way when it’s time to workout or I have practice I won’t be stressed thinking about my school work because I already did it. If I need help I ask questions then & there so I won’t be lost at home if I don’t have time to do my work before practices. Balancing my social life with being a student athlete can be hard at times because it’s I'm either working out & practicing or I'm doing my schoolwork. I don’t worry about it because I know I have goals to accomplish & I know how to make time."