The Texas A&M women’s basketball team ended the season with a hard-fought 87-80 loss to defending national champion Notre Dame in Chicago’s Wintrust Arena, which made an impression on Chicago native Kayla Green.
The Whitney Young High School point guard, who is ranked 56th in the class of 2020 by ESPN’s HoopGurlz, pledged to the Aggies this week.
“It was great to see a team that was interested in me play in the Sweet 16,” Green said. “They worked hard. The way they played, I really think that my game can fit into their system.”
The 5-foot-6 Green is the nation’s 17th best player at her position, according to ESPN. She averaged 15 points to earn Class 4A all-state honors last season by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
A&M head coach Gary Blair scored early points with Green by being the first head coach to see her play in person, and the relationship grew from there.
“When I came down to A&M, everything seemed so genuine,” Green said. “When I was looking for a school, I wanted to find something that felt like home. I didn’t care if it was a big school or a small school. I just wanted something that felt like home.”
It also helped that associate head coach Kelly Bond-White played at Whitney Young for legendary coach Arthur Penny, and former A&M center Khaalia Hillsman, a four-year starter who now plays overseas, also is from Whitney Young.
“Every call I’ve gotten from Coach Blair and Coach Bond has been genuine,” Young said. “And when I came to Texas A&M, they really treated me like family. The campus was awesome, and they care about academics, so that’s mainly why I chose A&M.”
And A&M ending the season in Chicago came with a bonus for Green.
“Even though they lost, Coach Blair still had a home visit with me,” Green said. “That really stuck with me, because after a big loss like that, he still had a home visit with me.”
Green is A&M’s first known pledge from the class of 2020, a critical one for A&M which had only two seniors last season. The Aggies this season will have seven juniors, including four guards.
Green is A&M’s first step toward restocking the perimeter.
“Kayla Green is used to the spotlight,” prepgirlshoops.com’s Jacob Wohlwend said. “The dynamic point guard is everything you could want in a floor general. Her ability to slip past her defender and make plays in the lane or step outside and knock down shots help her to be one of the top seniors in the state.”
Green said she is proudest of her defense, which is what “gets her going,” but she’d like to become more of an offensive threat
“I’m a smaller guard, so I’m working on shooting,” she said. “I’m a really good shooter, but to play on the next level, I need to be able to knock a shot down or create my shot, because it’s going to be harder for me to be able to get to the basket, so I’m going to have to be able to knock that shot down.”
Green models her game after 5-8 South Carolina guard Te’a Cooper, an All-Southeastern Conference performer.
“She’s really small like me, and she’s really aggressive,” Green said. “I’m a really scrappy player even though I’m small, so I’d say my game is like Te’a’s.”
Green, who is considering majoring in business or sports management, has no ties to A&M nor does her family. She does have family who live in Texas after moving from the Chicago area.
Verbal pledges are nonbinding. Coaches can’t talk about recruits per NCAA rules.