ASU women's basketball's Kianna Ibis displays standout performance

Kianna Ibis leads the Sun Devils in scoring after being named a starter this season

When junior forward Kianna Ibis stepped onto the court in Salt Lake City, Utah on Dec. 31, 2017, she and the rest of the ASU women’s basketball team were fresh off a win in their first conference game against Colorado.

However, Ibis knew that as a top scoring threat on the team, she would have to play much better against Utah.

Once the game began, Ibis made her first few shots and before she knew it, she was unstoppable, rolling to a career-high 30 points to lift ASU to an 83-81 win over the Utes.

The outing surprised many, including her sister and team manager Samantha Ibis. 

Samantha has watched many of her sister's games and even played alongside her in high school. But during the Utah game, Samantha saw something new from her sister.

“She did a little step back, she dribbled forward, stepped back, shot and made it,” Samantha said. “I was like 'where did that come from.' I have never seen her do that before.”

Even though Kianna's performance this season has been seen as surprising, head coach Charli Turner Thorne said this level of play has been a long time coming.

“She was such a talent out of high school,” Turner Thorne said. “Had she not torn her ACL, she would have come in and started doing more sooner.”

Samantha helped Kianna through her ACL injury and saw her sister’s confidence fluctuate as a result.

When the injury occurred, Kianna lost some of her confidence and since then has been working to rebuild. 

Turner Thorne said the key to Kianna’s success is based on her ability to score, combined with her willingness to shoot.

In Kianna’s freshman year, Turner Thorne said the team nicknamed her ‘honey badger’ because she shot the ball every chance she had.

“We joke that she never met a shot that she didn’t like,” Turner Thorne said. “She has always been a scorer, but to step into this bigger role, a starter, a go-to player, has been really fun.”

Kianna said that knowing she will be a starter has allowed her to put up more shots, but it takes off a lot of pressure as well. She can now settle for good looks at the basket and not worry about being pulled off the floor if it doesn’t fall. 

“Being in a bigger role, my mindset is to be more aggressive, just being a big threat like everyone else is on our team,” Kianna said. “I just want to be one of the big threats as well.”

Kianna has lead the team in overall scoring, averaging 13.6 points per game, while also leading the team in conference play with 16.7 points per game.

“The connectiveness that I have with my team brings me more confidence,” Kianna said. "Knowing that they always have my back also helps.” 

Despite ASU dropping its previous two games, Kianna has continued to stay hot with 22 points in the team’s latest loss to Oregon.

This Friday, the Sun Devils and Kianna will have another chance at the Utah Utes, a team that the junior forward found success against in their first meeting in Salt Lake City.

Kianna has not given too much thought to her future after college given that she still has to finish her junior and senior seasons.

However, Turner Thorne is confident that Kianna could go professional and even get drafted if she keeps up at her current pace.

“We’ll just have to wait and see, but most of them (ASU women’s basketball players) at least consider playing pro,” Turner Thorne said. “She (Kianna Ibis) could get a pro contract tomorrow if she wanted to.”

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