Kylie Ray, who is entering her senior year at Crescenta Valley High School and has one more season to excel on the basketball court for the Falcons, has already secured a spot in an extremely exclusive club post-graduation.
Recently, the standout point guard accepted an offer and committed to play Division I college basketball at the University of Utah, joining the select few that make it to that elite level. To give context, a recent study by the NCAA found that a scant 1.3% of girls’ high school basketball players will play Division I hoops. It is no small feat.
One of Ray’s biggest supporters has been her grandfather, longtime NCAA basketball coach Jim Harrick.
“His knowledge of the game and this whole process has been really helpful to me,” Ray said.
Specifically, he advised her to “find a place where I’ll be happy and fit in outside of basketball, too.”
For Ray, that equaled Utah, which last year claimed its first Pac-12 Regular Season title and finished with a 27-5 record, culminating with a trip to the Sweet 16 as the No.2-seeded team in Greenville Regional 2.
“Their whole program,” said Ray of what attracted her to the school. “They are on the rise. They are starting to do good things and I’m just excited to play with them.”
Utah was the only school from the Power 5 Conferences courting Ray, so that was one of the many reasons that it was the clear choice.
“My dream was always to play [in a] Power 5 [conference] and [the] Pac-12. I just really liked the program they built up there and the environment. I just felt like it was the best place for me to go.”
During the process, Ray was able to visit Salt Lake City and spend time on the campus, where she liked what she saw.
“I really liked the coaches and the players. I really liked the campus, just the feel up there. It just felt like home for me.”
Ray will be playing for head coach Lynne Roberts, who will be coaching her ninth year at Utah in the 2023-24 season and 20th overall. Roberts also won the Pac-12 Coach of the Year, a first for the program.
“I loved her. She is an awesome person. I really liked her,” Ray said of Roberts. “[Specifically,] the program she has built, her winning mindset and the future she has for the program.”
Some of the things Ray talked about with the Utes coaching staff are “how I’ll be able to push the ball, get people going and just running the offense and just looking for other players to score and looking for myself to be a scoring point guard.”
Although Ray has yet to officially sign her letter of intent, she is all in to become a Ute in the 2024-25 academic year. She currently plans to study sports medicine.
“I’m super excited and I just can’t wait,” she said.
It has been a rapid rise on the court for Ray, who just started playing what she calls “real basketball” in 8th-grade.
“I haven’t been playing basketball very long, so probably last year [is] when I started getting [scholarship] offers and saw that my hard work was paying off,” she said of when the idea of playing Division I basketball really came into focus before quickly turning into reality.
Ray has enjoyed the recruitment process.
“It was really fun. I enjoyed talking to different schools and getting to know them because they were all so different, so seeing what each program was about was fun.”
That said, her commitment to the Utes took the pressure of the process off her shoulders.
“I felt good just knowing I’m going to play basketball the next four years,” Ray said of settling on a college. “It just felt good that my hard work paid off and just got the result I’ve been waiting for.”
However, Salt Lake City will have to wait for now, as her senior year at Crescenta Valley is next on the horizon.
Ray plans on playing a leadership role, but also to “just to go out and have fun and play. I’m just excited to play one last year for high school.”
First published in the July 22 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.