By Jeff White
CHARLOTTESVILLE – Rare is the scholarship player in Division I basketball who was not a star in high school. So the fact that Kelsey Wolfe was The Washington Post’s All-Metro girls player of the year in 2009-10 was no guarantee she would make an impact as a UVa freshman.
But the 5-10 guard from Germantown, Md., has impressed Debbie Ryan since the Cavaliers opened practice for 2010-11 this month.
“Kelsey has distinguished herself a little bit and has been a very pleasant surprise,” Ryan said Monday at John Paul Jones Arena, where she talked to reporters about her 34th team at Virginia.
“Kelsey has game. She has game, and she played in the scrimmmage the other day and she completely separated herself in the guard position.”
Wolfe graduated from Seneca Valley High School, where she named the team’s MVP in each of her four seasons on the varsity. As a senior, Wolfe led the Screaming Eagles to a 27-0 record and the Class 3A title in Maryland.
“She passes the ball well,” Ryan said. “She doesn’t look like she’s going to be this speedy person, and she’s really not a speedy person, but she’s very, very efficient.
“She puts the ball in the basket from [3-point range], and she can get to the basket, and she can find the open man, and she just makes very good decisions. So she’s a player that I think has already started to distinguish herself and will earn some time based on her skill set.”
For Wolfe, the biggest challenge in her transition to college life has been time management.
“It’s just a lot to get used to,” she said Monday.
From a team that finished 21-10, UVa lost only one player, but Monica Wright was no ordinary player. The first-team All-American led the Wahoos in scoring, rebounding and steals in 2009-10. She was second in assists and made a team-high 31 3-pointers.
“I don’t think any one player is going to do that for us,” Ryan said. “I don’t think anybody on any team would be able to do that. But I do feel like we have plenty of talent, and we have plenty of kids that can put the ball in the basket.”
Ryan said her offense will benefit in late-game situations from having Wolfe “sitting on the perimeter. That kid can shoot the ball, and she makes good decisions. That’s the greatest part of it. She’s not going to try to shoot it if she’s not open. She can put it on the deck. I don’t know how to explain it to you, but she’s a gamer.”
Wolfe is one of three freshmen on UVa’s roster, along with 6-1 post player Jazmin Pitts and 5-10 guard Ataira Franklin.