When Lisa Harvey was lighting up the scoreboard at Benton Harbor in the mid-1980s, the top girls basketball players in Michigan could not wait to leave the state to play in college.
Pat Summitt won national championships with players such as Plymouth Salem’s Dena Head, Flint Northwestern’s Tonya Edwards and Detroit DePorres’ Daedra Charles, and our girls filled rosters of the nation’s top programs.
Harvey was one of those players whose hoop dreams took her to powerhouse Louisiana Tech. Today she isn’t bashful about expressing regret for leaving the state.
“I loved my national championship. I loved my Final Four and national runner-up,” she said. “But if I had to do it all over again, I would have come closer to home to have that support around you. That’s what’s different today. Kids need to find a place where it’s a fit for them, not just where they fit into a uniform and become a physical body on the bench.”
Harvey is now Harvey-Gondrezick — her husband, Grant, played professionally in the NBA and overseas — and they have two daughters who are better than their mother. And they listen well to their mother, who is also their coach at Benton Harbor High.
That is part of the reason Kalabrya Gondrezick, one of the top junior point guards in the country, committed to Michigan State.
“I want to play for people in my state and represent Michigan,” she said. “I feel sometimes people overlook the opportunities they have around them and don’t look at Michigan State and Michigan and Grand Valley and all these other schools. The grass is very green on our side; you don’t always have to look on the other side of the fence. Sometimes you’ve got to water your own grass.”
Gondrezick can water all the grass she wants at MSU, which has one of the best turf management programs in the country, but the youngster has other plans.
“I want to pursue communications and fashion merchandising, and they have one of the top communications programs in the country — they have three networks on site,” Gondrezick said. “On top of that, athletically they’re a top-20 team every year. Coach Suzy (Merchant) is a wonderful lady, a very family-oriented lady, very feminine. That was essential in my decision.”
It didn’t hurt that Gondrezick, 5-feet-8, is the first guard to commit to MSU’s class of 2015, joining forward Victoria Gaines of Merrillville, Ind.
Gondrezick is averaging 15 points, 6.2 assists, 7.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals for the Tigers. She is a terrific student with a 4.6 grade-point average and is No. 1 in her class.
But there is more to this commitment than meets the eye. Gondrezick isn’t the only Miss Basketball candidate in her family.
Gondrezick’s younger sister, Kysre, is a superb shooting guard and one of the most sought-after sophomores in the country.
The sisters never have said they were a package deal, so the book isn’t closed on Kysre’s recruitment. But they are each other’s best friend, and Kalabrya hopes to have a say in her sister’s recruitment.
“All my friends are supporting it and talking about the Spartans, so I think she’s looking at it and thinking: ‘Wow, I can be a part of it, too,’ ” Kalabrya said. “I’m not going to push her too much, but I’m going to try my best.”