By Jerry Del Priore
It’s not often that a female college basketball player sees significant playing time in her freshman season. But for St Joseph’s (Brooklyn) Kelly O’Donnell, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The five-foot-ten guard has not only logged a ton of minutes but has started as well. To that end, it has paid tremendous dividends for the Bears and herself, as O’Donnell has earned the Skyline Conference Women’s Basketball Rookie of the Week, the league announced Monday.
It’s the Marine Park native’s fourth Rookie of the Week honor this year.
As a freshman in high school, O’Donnell said she was a pass-first-shoot-later type of player. But things have changed for her, as she’s already a proven scorer in college.
“In high school, I played varsity as a freshman. As a player, I didn’t have much confidence just because I knew I was the youngest one on the court, so I was kind of passive aggressive,” said O’Donnell, who drained 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 87-74 defeat to visiting Farmingdale State Tuesday night.
“I felt like, these girls are seniors and juniors,” she continued. “I got to get them the ball. I’m just a freshman. But it’s been great start, and I’m just grateful. It’s definitely a confidence booster.”
O’Donnell earned the accolade by averaging 21.0 points and 9.0 rebounds over a 1-1 week for St. Joseph’s. The former St. Edmunds High School star opened the week with 10 points and eight rebounds in a win over Mount Saint Vincent on Wednesday and exploded for a career- and game-high 32 points with 10 rebounds and three steals in an overtime loss at USMMA last week.
Head coach Tom Flahive sang O’Donnell praises, saying the program is fortunate to have her, as she is gifted player who could easily grace the hardwood at higher levels. But choose the school for it educational teaching program and proximity to her mother’s job, allowing her the opportunity to attend several of daughter’s games, O’Donnell said.
“Kelly is a bonafide low division one, division two player. She should not even be playing at the Division III level,” Flahive said. “I’m not saying that because I got lucky getting her, but I firmly believe that. As a former Division I coach and former Division II coach, I kind know what’s it all about. Kelly is a very, very talent young woman. She’s has no ceiling. She’s going to shatter all kinds of records her.”
The Bears host Yeshiva University Thursday at 7:00 p.m.