By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
GOWER - East Buchanan senior and multi-sport standout Gracie Kelsey signed her national letter of intent Tuesday to play basketball for Division II Drury University in Springfield.
Kelsey announced her verbal commitment to Drury back on September 28. Her signing for the Panthers is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
"It's an amazing opportunity," she said. "It's what I've been dreaming of since I was a little girl and just being able to make it actually happen is awesome."
Kelsey was part of an East Buchanan team that won a state title in girls' basketball in 2020, and though she missed her sophomore season with injury, Kelsey has still accumulated 1169 career points and 684 rebounds - both figures rank in the top 10 in school history.
Her high school coach, Cori Elms, had thought for awhile that a college career was in Kelsey's future. To see that come to fruition was just as special for Elms.
"It's always exciting when you have a player able to do that," Elms said. "Especially something she's been working on since she was a little girl. Also, just her ability to be a great teammate makes it even more special. She's done an amazing job with our younger players, and is just well liked by her teammates and just always works hard. It's an incredible feeling as a coach to know she's going into a program that's done really well and is well respected."
Kelsey also gives credit to her teammates for making her goals possible.
"I've had great teammates in all of my four years," she said. "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be able to get the stats that I have. They're the ones who create passes and create opportunities for me to excel."
While spending her sophomore season on the bench with injury was not part of the plan, Kelsey says that time off the court proved to be beneficial in an unexpected way.
"I got to see where maybe we could make a pass here or there," she said. "There were just a lot of opportunities to catch even better plays that could have been made."
Kelsey helped the Bulldogs to a district title in girls’ basketball last season and was a key starter in East Buchanan volleyball’s run to state this past fall, where they finished fourth in Cape Girardeau.
She will join a Drury team that's made its mark on recent history. The Panthers have captured GLVC tournament championships every year from 2017-2022, and finished as the national runners-up in 2021.
"For me, that was a big bonus," Kelsey said. "If I can be able to help them continually be good, that's all I want to do. Just play my best."
"The community and energy they bring is amazing. The players who are there welcome you and they also will push you to play the best that you can play."
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.