Dream move for Kyla Nelson takes her from Oaklands Wolves to Pittsburgh Panthers
PUBLISHED: 09:18 26 January 2017 | UPDATED: 09:18 26 January 2017
It’s been a long time coming but for Oaklands Wolves Basketball’s Kyla Nelson her dream move to America is about to become a reality.
The 19-year-old is switching to one of top college sides when she starts a four-year scholarship with the University of Pittsburgh later this year.
She had the opportunity to conquer America last year but chose to remain with the fledgling WBBL outfit based in St Albans.
But now she feels the time is right.
“It was always the dream,” she said. “My brother went through it and I just knew I wanted to do it too. I stayed at Oaklands for a lot of reasons, but mainly I wasn’t ready to go. I hadn’t built up relationships with any schools.
“I went on three visits and I chose Pittsburgh. All three were amazing. They are all high-level Division One college’s which was surprising for me as I didn’t realise I was getting so much interest.
“But speaking to people who have been through the process, they said you just know when a school feels right and Pittsburgh feels right.
“It’s family orientated, the coaching staff are amazing and I can see myself living there, which is important as I’ll be there for four years.”
The Panthers play in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), which Nelson says is “arguably the best” in the States.
“Seven of the teams that play there are ranked in the top-25 in the country,” she added. “It’s very competitive. It’s got the best players and the facilities, staff and support is just incredible.
“I’ve had a lot of support to get this far but a lot of it has been down to me. So if I can get the support [when I get over there] I’m excited to see just how far I can get.”
She will head to Pittsburgh though full of thanks and praise for her current team.
She said: “Oaklands have given me a chance to have a key role in the team, which is putting pressure on me but at the same time is great as it helps me with my next step.
“I’ve got my highlight video, which I sent to American colleges, thanks to playing in the WBBL with Oaklands. Really Oaklands have given me the opportunity to get where I’m going.”
And despite a tough first campaign, the Wolves’ skipper believes her team are moving in the right direction.
“We know with what we’ve got we can win games. So I’m excited for the rest of the season, and I know the team is excited, to find ways to be successful. I think we deserve it with the team we have and it’s now about showing we can do it.
“We’re all on this journey together.”
And the next step on that journey will be an impressive one as she will lead her team out at The Copper Box in the Olympic Park for a match against Barking Abbey Crusaders which will be shown live on the BBC.
She said: “We play before the BBL game [between London Lions and Bristol Flyers]. That’s a great addition as it will give exposure to female basketball that we’ve never had before.
“This is the first time [Oaklands] have been in this situation so it’s really exciting for the college and I know now the WBBL team is established, over the next few years it will just grow and grow.”