Bartlett's Hare takes her sharp shooting to St. Louis
Because of the pandemic, a number of players have committed to colleges the past eight months without being able to set foot on the campus of their future home.
Not Bartlett's Kenzie Hare. The junior guard with unlimited range made three visits to St. Louis, and this week she decided it's the place for her.
Hare, a prolific scorer who already has 1,296 points in two seasons, picked the Billikens over UAB, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Missouri-Kansas City, Florida International and Nebraska-Omaha.
She first visited St. Louis for an elite camp, went back for Billiken Madness, and visited a third time to see a game.
"It's a beautiful campus, it really felt like home," Hare said. "The coaching staff is unbelievable. I have a great relationship with every coach on staff. That has been amazing. I wanted to be on campus a bunch. You get that feel when you are on campus so I wanted to do that."
Hare said St. Louis coach Lisa Stone, who she talks to every Sunday night, was another big factor in her decision.
Hare comes from a basketball family. Her parents Chris and Joan played high school basketball, coached basketball, and her mom played two years of junior college basketball.
Hare's older sister Kayla Hare also was a standout at Bartlett now playing at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
While there's a four-year age gap, it doesn't stop the two from going at it -- or making each other better.
"We're super competitive," Kenzie said. "We have been pushing each other since we've been playing basketball. We are always competing against each other but also helping. Whenever she comes home we do shooting competitions, we play one-on-one. It gets physical and competitive but you've got to love it. She's a great player, she has definitely helped me grow my game."
It was those early days watching her sister play that made Hare also choose the basketball path.
"I remember going to their practices and falling in love with basketball the moment I picked up a ball," Hare said.
She played soccer and lacrosse until high school. On the basketball court, Hare quickly established herself as a deadeye 3-point shooter as a freshman, helping the Hawks reach the sectional finals.
Hare made 119 more 3s last year while averaging 22 points a game. She gives credit to her AAU coach Ryan Haun for helping her get her form down.
Before COVID, Hare headed into her final two seasons of high school basketball on pace for 2,600 points -- with realistic chances of passing former Notre Dame great Lindsay Schrader for the school record and a shot at the extremely rare 3,000 mark.
That's all on hold, as is the chance to be part of a Division I backcourt with teammate Lexie Sinclair (St. Bonaventure) for a Bartlett team poised for a big season.
"It's definitely disappointing," Hare said. "A lot of seniors and feel really bad for them, and we didn't end last season like we wanted to (regional final loss to eventual state qualifier Lake Park). We are prepared and ready to play this year and want to go far this year if we have a season. We are staying ready and still working hard. We just want one more shot at it."
Hare said she plans to major in education and eventually wants to coach. Her current one at Bartlett, Kristi Ragan, said St. Louis is a great fit.
"Kenzie is such an amazing basketball player and person that I am happy she has found a school and program that she loves and wants to continue her career at," Ragan said. "Anyone that knows Kenzie knows she is one of the most competitive, kind, hard working, and passionate basketball players; and she brings those same qualities into life off the court. We can't wait to see the huge things Kenzie accomplishes in the next few seasons as a Hawk and into her future as a Billiken."