Kylee Mabry knew what she wanted to do for her birthday earlier this month: take an official college basketball recruiting visit.
For more than a year, the NCAA had prohibited in-person recruiting activities for Division I sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The so-called extended dead period was lifted June 1.
Mabry’s birthday recruiting visit to Utah Valley University won’t be the last time she’s on campus wearing a Wolverines basketball uniform.
Mabry announced her commitment to UVU’s women’s basketball program last week in a social media post, picking the Wolverines over the likes of Hawaii, Utah State, Weber State and Montana State.
The recruiting dead period meant Mabry didn’t go on many visits just like many class of 2022 recruits. As soon as Mabry started making plans to visit UVU, she said she knew she was going to commit there.
“The culture and the type of program they’re building is honestly something I’d love to be a part of,” Mabry told the Standard-Examiner in a phone interview Wednesday. “The family aspect they have there, I’ve created a really good relationship with the coaches over there.”
UVU offered her a scholarship in February toward the end of the high school basketball season and USU offered a couple weeks later, this after Weber State and Hawaii had offered Mabry back in September.
Two other reasons she said she picked UVU were the university’s proximity to home and the defensive style of basketball the Wolverines play. It also helped that UVU went to the NCAA Tournament earlier this year.
“They emphasized defense a lot and I obviously love defense,” Mabry said.
Mabry did average 13 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, but an aptitude for disrupting another team’s offense was her specialty. In the 2020-21 season, Mabry ranked third in the state with 5.5 steals per game, according to MaxPreps.
Mabry had a season-high 13 steals in the Darts’ opener against Pleasant Grove, and another 10 in a region win against Syracuse this season.
“I take my defense super seriously. If someone beats me on defense, I take it to heart. I don’t like to get beat on defense,” Mabry said.
Mabry has played on the elite Natalie Williams Basketball Academy club team with some of the state’s best offensive players — Fremont’s Timea Gardiner has played on that team — so Mabry used that environment to hone in on defense, she said.
UVU does what she likes to do: push the ball up the floor and apply a ton of pressure on defense.
UVU had the top scoring defense (58.8 ppg) and the No. 2 field goal percentage defense (38.3%) in the WAC in 2020-21, but the Wolverines had a negative turnover margin as a team and ranked sixth out of nine teams in steals per game, which are areas Mabry can help.