Wood looks to repeat high school success with Owls

Temple University freshman forward Kyra Wood, who is averaging 3.4 points per game, finished with 2,000 career points at City Honors High School in Buffalo, New York.

Kyra Wood, a freshman forward, warms up before an Owls’ game against Wichita State on Feb. 2. | NOEL CHACKO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University women’s basketball freshman forward Kyra Wood is looking to build off her high school accomplishments as an Owl. 

In her first season at Temple, Wood started in four games and averaged 3.6 points per game. While making an impact for the Owls, Wood hopes to inspire the younger girls at her former high school, City Honors School, where few women’s basketball players have been recruited.

More than halfway through the season, Wood has shown her talent on the court for the Owls. She has ‌played in 20 games, averaging 12.5 minutes a game. Wood has also scored 72 points and grabbed 93 rebounds so far this season.

“Overall, you can see how her confidence has improved, just as a player,” said graduate-student center Shantay Taylor.  “Just being more confident with the game. Her shot selection is becoming better, her rebounding, her blocking the shot, overall she’s just improved.”

Starting for the first time on Feb. 6 against East Carolina University, Wood finished second in overall points, with 16 points and eight rebounds. 

The 6-foot-3 forward is not afraid to ask questions when she doesn’t understand a play and has looked to her position coaches to develop her skills and get stronger, she said. 

“I’m used to being the number one everything in Buffalo,” Wood said. “It just gave me a little slap on the wrist to wake up, this is kind of a wake up call, but it was much needed.” 

While playing other sports as a child, Wood’s passion for basketball developed once she realized she could play at the college level, Wood said.

The freshman started playing basketball around age 11, after being introduced to the game by a family friend, who ran G.I.R.L.S. Sports Foundation camp in Buffalo. Playing at the camp pushed Wood to join other basketball leagues, she added.

“That was my first real thing that I did to involve myself with basketball,” Wood said. “My family friend, [Cecelie Owens], kind of introduced me and my sister to it, so we went and had fun, and we kind of stuck with that for a little bit.”

After, Wood played for City Rocks AAU League from 8th to 9th grade. Then she played for Philly Belles AAU League in 10th grade, while also competing for City Honors, a public school in Buffalo.

Once Wood told her parents she wanted to play division one basketball, Wood’s dad, Hollice Wood, was committed to making it happen. Along with carpooling with other teammates from the area, Hollice would drive from Buffalo to Mount Laurel, New Jersey, every weekend for Kyra to compete in tournaments with the Philly Belles, she said. 

During her time playing at City Honors School, Wood was the first female player from a Buffalo Public school to surpass 2,000 career points, which caught head coach Tonya Cardoza’s attention.

“That is a big deal, a lot of points to be scored,” Cardoza said. “She’s very capable of putting the ball in the basket, obviously, at the collegiate level.”

While playing for City Honors, Wood was named to the All-Western New York second team her junior year, while averaging 25.9 points, 12.2 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game.

Besides breaking a school record, Wood also helped put her high school basketball program on the map by getting the attention of colleges, as well as local recognition from local newspapers.

“My school was an academic school,” Wood said. “It wasn’t sports at all and I started that when people started coming to the games, when people started supporting us. I started getting respect on my name and basketball.” 

Besides Temple, Wood received offers from University at Buffalo, La Salle University, St. Bonaventure University and Stony Brook University.

“It was just a lot of basketball potential there,” Wood said. “When they see girls like me dropping 30 to 40 points a game, and doing all this stuff with the potential to go to the WNBA, it brings attention.”

Wood played basketball and volleyball at City Honors, but when it came time to decide between college offers, Wood knew basketball was the path to choose since it gave her the best opportunities for success. The recruitment process from Temple’s assistant coach Sam Guastella helped solidify Wood’s decision to continue her basketball career with the Owls. 

“[Guastella] was recruiting Wood before [Guastella] got here and her versatility,” Cardoza said. “Wood’s discipline, how she conducted herself on the floor, she just seemed like a really hard worker.” 

Coming from a family-oriented household, Wood’s college decision process featured input from everyone in her family, she said. 

Growing up in Buffalo, Wood wanted to go to a city school. The gentle nudge from her grandmother, Michelle Johnson, who loved the African American-founded buildings and overall history that lies within Temple, also helped sway her decision, Wood said. 

Wood announced her commitment to Temple on Oct. 10, 2020, the seventh anniversary of her grandmother’s passing. 

“I love my family, and I love basketball because of them,” Wood said. “They’re one of the most important things to me.”

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