With the 13th pick in the WNBA Draft, the Tulsa Shock selected Pittsburgh’s Brianna Kiesel. The 5-foot-7 guard talks about her happiness of being drafted, her time at Pittsburgh and the city of Tulsa.
Swish Appeal: What was your initial reaction to being drafted? Did you expect to see yourself drafted so high?
BK: “It was pretty amazing. I had no idea, nothing is a guaranteed. People talk, Mock Drafts, (but you) don’t really know until it happens. There was lots of speculation, nothing that was a really a guaranteed, just blessed to (get drafted) to the team.”
SA: Tell me about time in the ACC, who did you enjoy playing against?
BK: “The ACC is a very strong conference, arguably the best. It was an honor playing between teams like Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Duke and NC State. Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to beat Syracuse, our rival. We were up and coming and it was a blast to play!”
SA: Can you tell us about your trip to Vietnam this summer? How did it come about and what did you take away from that experience?
BK: “We have a phenomenal elective program at Pitt, and I was accepted. I taught middle school age Vietnamese children math and coached basketball. After that experience every day is a good day. They were very impoverished, and (a lot of them) drop out of school to help families.
“We tried to give excitement about going to school and how it helps family in the long run. It’s hard to have bad days now! The kids are so grateful, great smiles, hugs, we communicated non-verbally.”
SA: Are any of the kids good at basketball?
BK: “Basketball is definitely not one of their prominent sports there, but at the end of the day, I felt I was able to share my passion and teach them some fundamentals. The day they started, they didn’t know what a basketball was! By the end they were able to dribble the ball and make a layup. This really goes to show how quickly kids learn, and how they can be like a sponge and learn the game quickly.”
SA: As you transition to the pro’s, people are learning about you. Can you go into your leadership background as a three-time captain at Pitt? How was that experience?
BK: “I take a lot of pride in being a captain on and off the court. I lead by example, it shows how much coach and the team have confidence in you. I’m honored for the opportunity.”
SA: How would you describe your game?
BK: “I really take pride in my defense; I love to take the ball up in transition. I think my speed makes up for my height (laughter). I do whatever I can, I plan on coming in and buying into the system for Coach (Fred) Williams.
SA: You might be short, but you have a lot of heart. I got to see some footage of you crashing the boards with the bigger girls and pulling rebounds out of there:
BK: “You gotta do what you gotta do to help the team in anyway. If I have energy left at the end of a game I didn’t do enough.”
SA: Tell me about Coach McConnell-Serio and playing for her?
BK: “Man, it was such a blessing playing for her. If I could pack her up and take her wherever I went, I would! I loved playing for her. She preaches giving to the team. She gives you so much confidence. If you are putting in work, she will give you the opportunity to take the next shot, even if you are 0-15.
“For me, I am a little bit quieter, and she pushed me to be a vocal leader. A lot of people didn’t know about me before. Coach (McConnell-Serio) brings the best out of her players, and I will spend the rest of my lifetime paying her back.”
SA: Are you familiar with Tulsa? Do you know about the team?
BK: “I am learning about the team. I know that they are young and up-and-coming. I’m looking forward to competing and earning my spot. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to try out for the team.”
SA: Anything you want to say to the Tulsa fans?
“Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of such a phenomenal program, the fans have been so welcoming. I’m going to give it everything I have and leave it all on the line for them.”