Former Cumberland Valley high school basketball star, Kelly Jekot was a “great get” for ‘Nova Nation. She is a scorer with an arsenal of moves and she continues to get better. Jekot was named Big East preseason Freshman of the Year prior to the 2016-17 season and added her skills to a talented group of Villanova Lady Wildcats.
Jekot can be dangerous from outside and can run a team. She has the talent to potentially be an All Big East performer. The 6’0, Enola, PA native was dominant in high school winning countless player of the year awards including the Gatorade Player of the Year twice and USA Today Player of the Year. Jekot has WNBA potential given she is fearless, competitive, smart, and will take on any challenge. You can give the ball to her in the closing seconds knowing she is a clutch ball player. Not only was Jekot a District 3 MVP, she also led her team to 3 consecutive state championships scoring over 2,000 career points. As a Wildcat Freshman, Jekot started four games and played in 35. She shot 33% from the floor, 29% from three-point range and 72% from the free-throw line on her way to averaging 6.1 PPG and 3.5 RPG while dishing out 50 assists.
Leader Johnson: How long was Villanova recruiting you and what made you choose ‘Nova Nation?
Kelly Jekot: Villanova started recruiting me in middle school. I was surprised and excited when former assistant coach, Heather Vulin walked into the gym to see my game when I was in 8th grade. Coach Perretta gave me my first offer in the fall of my freshman year of high school and I committed to Villanova in the middle of my junior year.
Leader Johnson: How was it coming up in a town like Enola?
Kelly Jekot: Growing up in Enola has that rural feeling with mountains and the Appalachian Trail running through it, but Harrisburg is less than ten minutes away. The high school I went to (outside Enola) graduated 600-700 kids each class, so even though Enola was a small town I grew up going to a huge school.
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Leader Johnson: Describe the support of your parents and how they felt when you finally committed to Villanova?
Kelly Jekot: My parents were very supportive throughout the recruitment process. It can be very overwhelming and stressful, but good stressful. We focused on the things I wanted the most, which was a great education along with a great basketball experience. They were elated I chose Villanova. My parents, little sisters, and grandparents were thrilled that they would be able to get to see my games.
Leader Johnson: How did it feel to put on that uniform for the first time and how are the players on this team?
Kelly Jekot: Putting on my uniform for the first time was an incredible sense of accomplishment. I grew up working toward that moment and I was very proud to be a Wildcat. This returning team is extremely talented. It is exciting to think how far we could go this year.
Leader Johnson: Last season was no disappointment. You fought and displayed the toughness and class of ‘Nova Nation. What will make you better this coming season?
Kelly Jekot: The WNIT postseason was tremendous. The run we made has us all very excited for the upcoming season. Jannah [Tucker], Megan [Quinn], Alex [Louin], and Adrianna [Hahn] are all back - which is incredible. We lost only one starter to graduation and, having so much talent and depth, this season will be exciting. We jelled in the WNIT and will carry that into this season. We know what it takes to keep the season going.
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Leader Johnson: What was your best game last year and what were your numbers?
Kelly Jekot: My best game this season was against Seton Hall at home. It was my first collegiate start. 17 points , 6 rebounds, four three-pointers … we won 69-52.
Leader Johnson: What was the hardest game last year?
Kelly Jekot: The hardest game this season was the loss to Michigan in the WNIT semis. I didn’t want to see the season end. We were close but came up short.
Leader Johnson: What WNBA player do you model your game after and what is the strongest point of your game?
Kelly Jekot: I try to model my game after Washington Mystics’, Natasha Cloud. Her vision in the open court and seeing her teammates has always impressed me. It’s the strongest point of my game and where I can make an impact.
Leader Johnson: What part of your game have you improved on the most and what do you think you need to work on the most?
Kelly Jekot: Defense is the area where I am most improved and will continue to get better throughout my time at ‘Nova. Getting to the basket, drawing contact, and finishing is an area I will be focusing on this summer and fall. My teammate, Alex does a great job with this.
Leader Johnson: What does it take to get to be the player you are and are going to be? What keeps you so focused?
Kelly Jekot: I always have goals, short and long term goals which keep me focused. It’s always important to work your hardest even when no one's watching. Also, Jannah, Alex, and the upperclassmen have helped me a lot in learning the offensive system. It took some time but now, having that knowledge, I can focus on other areas. Villanova has given me an unbelievable opportunity and incredible resources to become the best I can be.
Leader Johnson: There are some really impressive players on your team. I expect a very successful season. What player, besides yourself, should we be on the watch for that hasn't broke out yet?
Kelly Jekot: There is a lot of talent and depth on the team. We are young but gained a lot of experience going far into the WNIT. Look for everyone on the team to have an important part of this year’s success
Leader Johnson: Great talking to you!
Follow Kelly Jekot on twitter: @KellyJekot25
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