She has already played 10 games for her new team, but Kelsey Bone still gets chills every time she looks at the top-most part on the back of her Phoenix Mercury jersey.
“Every time I put my jersey on, I look at those three trophies on the back of the neck,” Bone said. “Just watching the videos that are played before the games, when you get a chance to a part of something so special and so legendary, it’s always exciting.”
The Mercury are equally excited about their new 6-4 post player, whom they acquired in a trade on June 25. She is another All-Star added to an already overwhelming mix of talent, but her brand of basketball adds a different dimension Phoenix needs for its playoff run.
“Kelsey’s that real low-post, strong presence that we really appreciate,” said Mercury veteran Penny Taylor. “She’s a baller. She knows what to do. She knows where to be.”
Never mind that Bone certainly did not know she wanted to be in the WNBA in the first place. As a young girl, she had ambitions of being a cheerleader, but an early growth spurt left her standing at 6-2 by the tender age of 13. It was then that her mother helped set her on a new path, one that would redefine her life’s direction.
“I kept trying to convince her that I didn’t have to play basketball, and she wasn’t having it,” Bone laughed.
What her mother, Kim Courville, did have was the means to purchase season tickets to a new women’s basketball team: the WNBA’s Houston Comets. The investment inspired Bone, who became an immediate fan of the league’s first dynasty and superstars Sheryl Swoopes, Cynthia Cooper and Tina Thompson.
The former Dulles High (Tex.) standout also loved seeing superstars from other teams. She recalls watching the 2007 Mercury, led by Taylor and Diana Taurasi, win its first championship while she was an underclassman in high school.
“This league is the reason that I started playing basketball,” Bone said.
She didn’t just play. She dominated. Bone was named the 2009 McDonald’s John Wooden National High School Player of the Year. The 6-4 talent didn’t stop rising in college, ranking in SEC’s top three in shooting percentage, rebounding and scoring in her senior season. She led Texas A&M to the SEC conference title, winning Tournament MVP along the way.
Those accomplishments were enough to make her the fifth overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft. Throughout that entire basketball path, her mother watched and cheered every step of the way.
“She never missed a game,” Bone said. “No matter how far away I played, other countries and things like that, she was always there.”
That family bond — along with Bone’s talent and appreciation for WNBA basketball — is now in Phoenix. There are still surreal moments as she gets used to playing alongside Taurasi, Taylor and Brittney Griner. As time passes, she will learn how to further mesh her own skills with theirs.
That process, with this franchise, is what Bone enjoys the most.
“To now be in the locker room with them and to be on the court with players like Diana and Penny, you can’t replicate that,” Bone said. “You can get that anywhere else.”