Kaylee Kilpatrick had decisions to make when she left high school.
Stay in Canada or cross the border?
As the veteran professional from Saint John looks back on a distinguished basketball career – one that is idle only because of a pandemic – she said either way, things would have worked out after her university tenure ended.
Kilpatrick reflected upon her decision-making process when she found out – and was thrilled to see - Allie McCarthy of Grand Falls commit to University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
McCarthy, now playing at the preparatory level in Ontario as a high school senior, will be the first female player since Kilpatrick to play at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I level.
Kilpatrick starred with the University of New Hampshire Wildcats after leaving Saint John’s Harbour View High Vikings.
She would play 111 games with the Wildcats, starting 74 of them. She averaged 7.1 points per game and recorded 130 blocks over her four-year career from 2011 to 2015.
Kilpatrick then went on to play professionally in Ireland, Australia and Germany.
The six-foot-four force was anticipating her third season in Germany this fall before COVID-19 scuttled those plans.
‘There is a big topic of conversation in the Canadian basketball community on whether or not players should stay in Canada,’ said Kilpatrick. ‘I wouldn’t argue for or against that idea. Players need to do what’s best for them. Had I stayed in Canada, I know I would have developed as a player and a person under a great coaching staff. I’m incredibly glad I went to New Hampshire and had so many wonderful experiences.’
McCarthy has been on basketball radars for a long time.
She started playing at the high school level when she was a middle school student at John Caldwell School, starring for the Golden Knights in Grand Falls before her family moved to Fredericton.
McCarthy played at Fredericton High with the Black Kats and continued her remarkable Final 12 run, having never lost a divisional interscholastic championship game at the single-A and AAA levels.
McCarthy was also a lock for Basketball New Brunswick teams at the national age class level and has attended a number of Canada Basketball age class identification camps.
When news broke McCarthy had committed to the program in Grand Forks, Kilpatrick was stoked.
‘It was very exciting news for Allie and I’m so happy for her,’ she said. ‘I love seeing players from New Brunswick going places and achieving their goals.’
Kilpatrick said McCarthy can expect a different game when she arrives on campus next year.
Some subtle, some not.
‘Allie can expect a very physical game with a high level of intensity and the style of play is a bit different from the Canada Basketball model,’ said Kilpatrick. ‘That was my experience and it could differ depending on the coaching staff. In my career, there were a lot of set plays and less reading and reacting motion that I was used to growing up. That style also worked for me.’
One thing is for certain when it comes to D1 and the NCAA.
Games are an event, facilities are solid, team personnel is deep from head coach down the line and the game happens fast.
‘The overall university sporting culture in the United States is much more intense than here in Canada, but that being said, it’s a lot of fun when you’re immersed in that atmosphere,’ Kilpatrick said. ‘It’s going to be an amazing experience for her.’