Kindyll Wetta showing fight for Colorado women’s basketball | Sports Coverage

MANHATTAN, Kansas — Kindyll Wetta’s car rides with her parents shaped her into the nasty basketball player she is today for Colorado.

The junior guard was given a question each day before her games, “Are we going to be nice, or are we going to be nasty?” She chose nasty then and has in every game since. Wetta kept the mindset through multiple torn ACLs, too. If anything, the injuries honed it.

As a freshman at Valor Christian High School, she fell victim to a left knee ACL tear. After recovering, she did the same to her right knee a year later. Her mom, Valerie Wetta, did the same in her basketball career — a résumé that included college basketball for the Buffaloes after her injuries, and a subsequent inspiration for her daughter to follow along.

The only Colorado player on the roster also catalyzes its success, even if the headlines don’t always feature her by name.

“Kindyll sees defense the way she sees everything in life,” Colorado coach JR Payne said. “She’ll attack it head-on, she’ll be totally fearless in her pursuit of being the very best she can be, whether that’s organic chemistry or defense or whatever. She’s battled.”

Wetta has started just three times in the 96 games she has played at Colorado. Her 23.3 minutes per game this year were still fifth on the roster, though.

Against Drake, the Buffs trailed 11-3 in the first three minutes. Enter Wetta and the difference she can make for a team and its energy. She snagged multiple rebounds and a steal to start the run and added a career-high 16 points through the rest of the game to keep the lead for good.

Wetta’s game reminds her family of her mom, but she’s a player built in her own mold — a defensive tyrant who can annoy opposing teams and give her own a boost when they subsequently fold. All without the luxuries of 30-plus minutes every night or regular starts.

Playing basketball as a reserve is still better than not playing at all. Wetta embraces the role and is reminded each day why it is so fitting. She plays hard-nosed because she is.

“I think Kindyll is one of the most productive, most inspirational players on our team,” Payne said. “That’s why she comes off the bench, because she can bring something off the bench that nobody else on our team brings.” 

Toughness has a fine line, and Wetta found it in third grade.

Playing nasty, she kicked an opposing player in one of her games and was quickly reprimanded for it. The Wetta household is meant to be a nasty one on the court, but not a dirty one. Her father Robb reminded her of the lesson and gave her a pearl of wisdom with it.

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“They made me apologize to the girl after the game,” Kindyll said. “You need to be someone who people admire on the court and don’t just hate because she’s dirty. There is a fine line, and I’ve always tried to prioritize playing tough, but not dirty.”

Jaylyn Sherrod, the headline-grabber of the Buffaloes, is one of Wetta’s biggest admirers.

Coming off the bench hasn’t been easy for Wetta. Like any basketball player, she wants to be part of the lead group that heads into battle first. That’s a personal need though, not a team one. She reminds herself of that often, and when she needs help, Sherrod steps in and boosts her up.

Wetta looked up to Sherrod before coming to Colorado. As a preps player, she saw the tenacity that the Buffaloes guard had, and what she could do to aid wins. She just happens to play the same position that Wetta is asked to when she isn’t on the wing as a smaller forward.

What looked to be a position battle has blossomed into a relationship of support.

“She’s an absolutely incredible player,” Wetta said. “Initially, I thought it was going to be more of a competitive relationship between us. With her playing (guard) and me coming in and playing both (guard) and (forward), it’s really helped build our relationship.

”She always says, ‘Let’s go out there, let’s be aggressive, tenacious and let’s do it together.”

Together, Colorado has created a culture where Wetta can thrive, and her teammates can do the same around her.

Fans can call Wetta a native, the next generation of a Colorado basketball family lineage, or just Kindyll. Payne simply calls her “the best defender in America.” If the coach could, she would happily fill a roster of players just like her.

Wetta will likely always give a humble response to the assertion, and a small smile in appreciation. But don’t be fooled, she’s nasty and has been since the ride to the arena.

It’s a choice she makes, and one she’ll continue to with pride.

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