Freshman duo getting acclimated to CU Buffs women’s basketball

Head coach JR Payne feels Kindyll Wetta, Kennedy Taylor will make impact this season

  • Peanut Tuitele is interviewed by Channel 9 during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Peanut Tuitele, left, and Sophia Gerber, look at video during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Peanut Tuitele, left, Sophia Gerber, and Lesila Finau, watch video they shot during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Peanut Tuitele, left, Sophia Gerber, and Lesila Finau, crack up after watching a video they shot during media day during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Mya Hollingshed floats across the court during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Mya Hollingshed floats across the court during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Maura Singer, left, and Sophie Gerber, are about to be hugged by Frida Foremann during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Jaylyn Sherrod is interviewed by reporters during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Sophia Gerber practices her video skills during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Tameyia Sadler is not shy during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • CU WBB coach, JR Payne, during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Peanut Tuitele does a promotional video during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Frida Foremann is interviewed during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Tameyia Sadler hangs out with her teammates during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Maura Singer is all smiles during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Quay Miller, left, and Jaylon Sherrod, watch a video on a phone during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Lesila Finau waits to be interviewed during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Quay Miller during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Sophia Gerber is interviewed by reporters during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Lesila Finau waits to be interviewed during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Kennedy Taylor is interviewed during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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This week in practice, Colorado women’s basketball assistant coach Toriano Towns threw a press defense at young point guard Kindyll Wetta.

“She just diced it up on her own,” head coach JR Payne said.

“She’s playing really well and will be an impactful player.”

Coming into her sixth season as the Buffaloes’ head coach, Payne has a veteran group of players and a higher level of expectations than ever before. She’s also got an intriguing pair of freshmen, including Wetta.

A 5-foot-9 guard from Valor Christian, Wetta is the rare highly rated in-state prospect to stay home and play for the Buffs.

“We always want to recruit the best players in the state of Colorado to stay home,” Payne said during CU’s annual basketball media day on Tuesday. “Players that can help us win a championship need to come to Colorado and be Buffs. She certainly is that player.

“Kindyll, just as a young woman, embodies everything that we value. As a coaching staff, we want players that are hardworking, tough, resilient; they excel in the classroom, they excel in their community. They work as hard as they possibly can. And that is Kindyll in a nutshell. She also is a really talented basketball player. So the combination of the two is really great. She’s playing really well.”

BOULDER, CO - Oct. 19, 2021: ...
Kennedy Taylor is interviewed during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

ESPN rated Wetta as the No. 16 point guard prospect in the country for the 2021 class and she was named Class 5A player of the year as a senior.

Meanwhile, the Buffs’ other freshman, Kennedy Taylor, is making her mark, too.

A 6-foot-3 forward from Shawnee Mission NW (Kan.) High School, Taylor was ranked as the No. 2 player out of Kansas. She was named the 6A player of the year in Kansas last year, averaging 14.9 points and 11 rebounds and led her team to the first basketball state title (boys or girls) in school history.

So far, Taylor is taking in the rigors of the college game.

“KT is great,” Payne said. “She is drinking out of a fire hydrant for the last couple months because college basketball is so much more. It’s more weightlifting, it’s more focused on nutrition, it’s moving faster, it’s more things you have to remember. It’s a lot, but she is handling it very, very well.”

Payne said Taylor has been coachable and often looks to her veteran teammates for advice. She’s also brought a “great spirit” to the team and has been one of the top rebounders in practice.

“She also is finding a way to impact the floor, but I think KT, in the long run, is going to have a really great career here,” Payne said.

BOULDER, CO - Oct. 19, 2021: ...
Mya Hollingshed floats across the court during media day for University of Colorado Boulder’s women’s basketball on October 19, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Veteran leader

When the NCAA granted all players an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, forward Mya Hollingshed took advantage. Now, the Buffs are benefitting in many ways from having her back for a fifth season.

“She had a really great year last year and she also is having a really great year of practice so far this year,” Payne said. “We’re seeing more vocal presence from Mya, which we’ve been asking her to do since maybe her junior year.”

Hollingshed was named first-team All-Pac-12 last year after averaging career highs in points (15.4) and rebounds (7.8). The Buffs could use those numbers again but also benefit from her developing leadership.

“We need her to coach and be able to help our young players or our new players, and she’s doing a really good job of that,” Payne said. “She’s actually coaching them, helping them. They go to her when they have questions offensively or defensively and that’s a huge key for us.”

Notes

Sophomore center Maura Singer, who has not played since her junior year (2017-18) of high school because of knee injuries, said she is feeling great as she goes through preseason practices with the Buffs. … Junior center Charlotte Whittaker, who will miss this season after recovering from multiple hip surgeries, said her rehabilitation is going well to this point. … The Buffs have an exhibition against Colorado School of Mines at 7 p.m. on Nov. 1 at CU Events Center. The season opener will be Nov. 10 at Oklahoma State.