Women's Basketball, WVU Sports

Kylee Blacksten shows off all parts of her game in leading WVU past Appalachian State

MORGANTOWN — As another example of how wild life can be in college basketball and the transfer portal, we offer up this story on WVU’s Kylee Blacksten.

When the 6-foot-3 forward decided to enter the portal out of Colorado this spring, Blacksten said one of the first coaches to contact her was Dawn Plitzuweit.

“I had been in contact with her some in high school, before I decided on Colorado,” said Blacksten, who scored 18 points and added eight rebounds Sunday, as West Virginia ran past Appalachian State 72-51 inside the Coliseum. “So, I was sort of familiar with her and her style of play.”


Just one problem.

“I thought originally she was still at South Dakota,” Blacksten said. “I got on their web site to do some research, and she was gone and the coaches were gone. I thought it was some kind of bad joke at first.”

Blacksten eventually figured it out, decided to take a visit to WVU, and the joke has been on West Virginia’s opponents so far.

“I thought Kylee did a good job of trying to establish herself in the paint first,” Plitzuweit said. “The first two games, we’ve seen Kylee want to shoot it from the outside. She’s really good at playing on the perimeter, but we need her to be a presence inside, and I thought she really focused on that.”

And that’s the thing with Blacksten, she has the talents of a guard wrapped up in the body of a power forward.

Blacksten said the story behind that was she was always a guard growing up and wasn’t always the tall and awkward girl in class.

“I actually didn’t start growing until late in high school,” she said.

By that time, she had already developed her sharpshooting skills, thanks to her mother P.J.

“My mom coached me all the way until I got to middle school,” Blacksten said. “She fixed my shot here and there and we would tweak some things when we had to.”

Mom had always taught her the importance of rebounding, too, but suddenly shooting up in height did change her game, just not her shooting ability.

“It’s definitely something I’m always learning and trying to grow into,” Blacksten said. “It was huge learning about the footwork and timing. When to put the ball on the floor and drive, things like that.”

She worked her way around the paint in the first half, scoring eight points when WVU (3-0) struggled to make shots.

In the second half, she drove to the basket for an and-one three-point play and then nailed a 3-pointer from the wing, as WVU began to pull away.

“I knew in the summer that she was going to score the ball,” said WVU guard Madisen Smith, who added 13 points and eight assists. “She can score at all levels. She can score around the basket. She can shoot the three. She’s a great player. I love playing with her.”

WVU, which travels to Mexico to play in the Cancun Challenge on Thursday, struggled with its shot overall.

WVU hit just 29 of 75 from the floor (39%), but held Appalachian State (1-4) to 28% shooting.

“I thought we defended at a high level,” Plitzuweit said. “Offensively, we’ve got to start the game better. We’re getting some really good looks. We took some quick shots early. I thought our post players played a good game and we got the ball to the rim, but they just didn’t fall.”

Jayla Hemingway added 11 points and nine rebounds for WVU and Danni Nichols came off the bench to add nine points and six rebounds.

TWEET @bigjax3211