August 19, 2022

Byron’s Harvey, the truest of gym rats – Rochester Minnesota news, weather, sports

Asked if she has any other hobbies besides basketball, Kendra Harvey replied, “I like to…

Asked if she has any other hobbies besides basketball, Kendra Harvey replied, “I like to go to ETS.”

ETS Performance Rochester happens to be the place where Harvey goes to work out, which of course helps the Byron freshman star basketball player become even better at her by-far No. 1 passion — hoops.

Still, Harvey isn’t “all” basketball, though it’s close.

“I like to make sure that I’m not one-dimensional,” said Harvey, who is averaging 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals per game for 3-2 Byron. “So, getting good grades is very important to me.”

Harvey gets that done, as one of the top students in her grade.

But what she certainly likes to get done most is dribble, shoot and pass. There is no question here. There are “gym rats,” and then there is Harvey. If allowed to do overnights in the gym, she’d probably settle herself right under the hoop.

“Kendra is in the ‘laboratory’ all the time,” Byron coach Jeremy Baumbach said, referencing Harvey’s inordinate gym time, which she continually uses to tinker and experiment with her game. “She eats, sleeps and dreams basketball. Anytime Kendra can get court time, she’s out there. When you consider all of the time she puts in in the summer, it is (incredible). She is just so driven. It’s nice to see someone with this much passion.”

Tracking Harvey’s basketball obsession isn’t difficult. As is so often the case with sports-driven teenagers, it started with the encouragement of her dad, Jason Harvey.

A basketball lover himself, he instilled the hoops bug in Kendra starting in about first grade.

It wasn’t long before she was hooked. Now, there is no undoing what he created. Kendra says there is too much to do and too many possibilities to explore on a basketball court to ever get bored with it.

“I just really like it,” said Harvey, whose Byron team will play in the Rotary Holiday Classic on Tuesday and Wednesday at Mayo Civic Center. “You get to do so many things in basketball. There are so many spots on a basketball court where you can succeed and make your teammates better and look good. There are so many chances to shine.”

In the eyes of Baumbach, Harvey’s first shining moments happened in about fifth grade. When he’d watch her handle the ball and shoot, it was just different than everyone else around her. She already had the ability to take the ball to the hoop with ease. And when she’d shoot, the ball looked great coming out of her hand.

And even back then, the hoops junkie in her was obvious. Conversations always steered toward the game.

“In the fifth grade, she could already tell you what Karl-Anthony Towns’ stats were,” Baumbach said. “She’s always watched a lot of games, and at a lot of levels. That’s helped her. She thrives watching basketball.”

Harvey thrives there because she takes what an admired player does on television and tries to incorporate it into her game, upon returning to her “laboratory.” The University of Connecticut’s Paige Bueckers — a Hopkins graduate — is a favorite player, with her slick passes. Harvey also likes taking pieces from players she’s going against now, such as star guards Aby Shubert of Kasson-Mantorville, Natalie Bremer of Lake City and CJ Adamson of Lourdes.

Harvey has been watching them up close for three seasons already, as she was called up to the Byron varsity at the tail end of her seventh-grade year. Harvey’s improvement and impact has been both steady and dramatic. After averaging 5 points in five varsity games as a seventh-grader, she upped that to 9 ppg. when she became a starter last year. That’s before taking a quantum jump this season.

Not only is the 5-foot-8 Harvey scoring those 18 points per game, but she is doing it efficiently, shooting 46% from the field overall and a sizzling 56% on 3-pointers. Scoring is obviously not all she is doing as those 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals per game attest.

Harvey admits to liking robust statistics. But there is something she appreciates even more than that, and that is winning.

Byron has had losing seasons in two of the three years since 6-foot-5 star center Ayoka Lee (now a junior standout at Kansas State) graduated in 2018.

Harvey has some definite individual goals, such as averaging better than 20 points this season, getting to 1,000 career points next year, improving her defense and eventually being a Division I player.

But winning surpasses all of those.

“I really want our team to have a winning record this year,” Harvey said. “And I want our team to get further in the playoffs than it has recently. We’ve lost to Albert Lea in the playoffs the last two years. Our main goal is to not let that happen again. We want to get over the hump. That would be huge to me.”