BOULDER, CO – SEPTEMBER 30: University of Colorado Boulder freshman guard Kindyll Wetta (15) passes during a team practice on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. (Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER, CO – SEPTEMBER 30: University of Colorado Boulder freshman guard Kindyll Wetta (15) passes during a team practice on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. (Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)

Coming into this season, Kindyll Wetta was under no illusion that she’d become a starter and star for the Colorado women’s basketball team right away.

That self-awareness and willingness to go through the process might help her get there sooner rather than later, though.

On Friday, the Buffaloes (2-0) will host Marquette (3-0) in the home opener at the CU Events Center. It will be the first home game for Wetta, a freshman guard from Valor Christian High School who has been the Buffs’ top player off the bench so far this season.

BOULDER, CO – NOVEMBER 1: University of Colorado Boulder’s Kennedy Taylor (No. 5), Kindyll Wetta (No. 15), Colorado School of Mines’s Sammy Van Sickle (No. 30) and Loralee Stock (No. 11) dive after a loose ball at CU Events Center in Boulder on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

“It’s actually been pretty good,” she said of the adjustment to college basketball. “It’s the first time that I’ve ever not started on a team or that I’ve been on the bench longer than five minutes or whatever. It’s definitely shown me that that’s something that I want to work towards, and keep working on my game so that I can get to that point.”

Wetta was the Class 5A player of the year last season after leading Valor to a 17-0 record and the state championship. She averaged 10.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 4.8 steals as a senior.

From early in Wetta’s prep career, the CU staff had their eye on her and they’re thrilled to have her on the team now.

“She really embodies everything that we value,” CU head coach JR Payne said. “She’s disciplined. She’s tough. She’s fearless. She’s willing to be coached. She’s willing to do anything the team needs her to do. She makes great decisions on the floor, off the floor.

“If you could have an ideal freshman that’s ready, she’s probably as close as it could come to a fresh being ready.”

Credit Wetta’s work ethic and upbringing for that. Several coaches prepared her for this step, as did her mother. Valerie (Johnson) Wetta was a star point guard at Doherty High School before signing with CU. She played two seasons with the Buffs, from 1994-96.

Those around Wetta helped her prepare mentally for the adjustment to college.

“You’re never really fully prepared until you’re experiencing it, but I feel like I had a decent idea of what I was going to be thrown into,” said Wetta, who is averaging 4.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals.

Joining a veteran team, Wetta has the luxury of learning behind two experienced point guards in senior Sila Finau and junior Jaylyn Sherrod.

“They’re very helpful,” Wetta said. “When I’m confused in practice, I always go to one of them. They’ve obviously been through what I’m going through and they bring a different perspective than one of the coaches might, but they’ve been extraordinarily helpful and helping me understand why I’m doing what I should be doing and when I should be doing it.”

Payne already feels comfortable putting Wetta on the floor. Wetta had seven points and six rebounds while playing 27 minutes in a chaotic, physical 58-53 win at Air Force on Sunday.

“I honestly don’t really see (Wetta) as a backup,” Payne said. “You could easily start her at (point guard).”

Wetta is still adjusting to long film study sessions, more intense practices and still developing her scoring ability, but effort hasn’t been an issue.

“My mentality coming into college basketball was to give 100% effort all the time because that’s something that I know that I can do is always work my butt off,” she said. “No matter how my offensive game is going, I can always work as hard as I can on defense and have the discipline that the coaches are wanting.”

That’s an attribute Payne noticed in the recruiting process and it has carried over this season.

“She’s one of very few people that I’ve coached that actually give 100% effort on every possession,” Payne said. “Whether it’s a rebounding drill or defense or shooting or whatever, she gives 100% effort, which is really great because as a coach you’re trying to figure out, who can I trust to do what? … With Kindyll, I know exactly what she’s gonna do.”

Wetta hasn’t been perfect, of course, but she’s developing quickly and ready to play her first home game after getting her feet wet with a pair of road games to start the season.

“It’s been super weird; like you’re still getting out of the stage of where you feel like you’re dreaming, but you’re actually playing in college basketball games,” she said. “It’s been good to get those (first two) out of the way and now you’re used to it. The level is much higher than high school and a lot faster, but it’s been great. I love it.”

CU Buffs women’s basketball vs. Marquette Golden Eagles

TIPOFF: Friday, 7 p.m., at CU Events Center in Boulder

BROADCAST: Online – Radio – 630 AM

RECORDS: Colorado 2-0 (0-0 Pac-12); Marquette 3-0 (0-0 Big East)

COACHES: Colorado – JR Payne, 5th season (74-75; 175-188 career). Marquette – Megan Duffy, 3rd season (46-15; 90-35 career).

KEY PLAYERS: Colorado – G Sila Finau, 5-9, Sr. (3.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 apg); G Frida Formann, 5-11, So. (6.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg); F Mya Hollingshed, 6-3, Sr. (10.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg; 3.0 bpg); C Quay Miller, 6-3, Jr. (13.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg); G Jaylyn Sherrod, 5-7, Jr. (10.5 ppg; 5.5 rpg; 4.5 apg, 2.5 spg); F Peanut Tuitele, 6-1, Sr. (4.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg); Marquette – F Liza Karlen, 6-2, So. (9.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg); G Jordan King, 5-11, Jr. (8.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 6.3 apg); F Chloe Marotta, 6-1, Sr. (7.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 5.0 apg); G Karissa McLaughlin, 5-7, Sr. (17.7 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 3.0 apg); F Kennedi Myles, 6-2, Jr. (7.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg); F Lauren Van Kleunen, 6-2, Sr. (13.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg).

NOTES: This is the home opener for the Buffs, who are seeking their fourth 3-0 start in Payne’s six seasons. The Buffs opened the season with road victories against Oklahoma State (55-45) and Air Force (58-53). … “We’re thrilled to be home,” Payne said. “Really hoping we’ll have a great crowd. It’s a huge game for us and we’re excited to play at home.” … CU is 1-1 all-time against Marquette, winning on March 16, 1994, in the NCAA Tournament and losing on April 2, 2008, in the Women’s NIT semifinals. Both games were in Boulder. … This will be Marquette’s first road game. The Golden Eagles rolled past Alcorn State, NJIT and Southern in the first three games, winning by an average of 39.3 points per game. … Marquette returned 10 players, including three full-time starters, from last year’s team, which went 19-7 and played in the NCAA Tournament. … In Payne’s tenure, the Buffs are 48-5 against nonconference opponents (30-2 at home). The Golden Eagles are 15-3 in nonconference games under Duffy. … CU’s Frida Formann and Marquette’s Julianna Okosun grew up together in Denmark and were teammates on the Danish National Team.