Wait Is Over For WVU’s Rudd
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Her name is Kiana but everyone calls her Lucky.
She’s the newest West Virginia women’s basketball player and it isn’t certain whether it was tougher on coach Mike Carey to wait on Lucky Rudd, a transfer from North Carolina State, to become eligible after the first semester or on Rudd herself.
“This year was a tough mental year for me,” she admitted before WVU went out at the Coliseum and sent hapless Morgan State to its 11th loss in 12 games this year.
Since opting to transfer, she has gone to classes, practiced and sat and watched the team develop around her but without her before she debuted with 27 minutes in an easy victory over Eastern Kentucky last week.
“Being able to cheer my teammates on and see things that were going on was a big part of helping me come into the game and not be so nervous. It was tough this year not being able to play and always having to practice, then go through the shoot-around and then watch your teammates play while you sat on the bench.
“But it was well worth it. It helped me get better physically and mentally.”
Let’s first discuss the nickname.
“It was a nickname my mom gave me even before I was born. Things happened during my birth and even during my life to define why I’m called Lucky,” she explained.
Rudd, a junior, is a product of a basketball upbringing, destined to do her thing on the basketball court.
Her father, Delaney Rudd, played at Wake Forest, averaged 11.7 points through his career, was a fourth-round pick in the NBA draft in 1985 by Utah, played three full years in the league and part of another, then had his greatest moments playing professionally in France.
He returned to his native North Carolina, became a high school coach and a top AAU coach of women’s basketball.
“My dad taught me everything,” she said. “He’s the reason why I’m here. He paved the road for me. It’s all because of my dad.”
They spent a lot of hours working on her game and he never cut a break.
“He took it to me. He wanted me to get better and that’s the only way. He wasn’t going to lie to me. You got to have the truth,” she said.
Rudd admits that there were some frustrating times as Delaney brought her along.
“My dad was my high school coach and that can be frustrating, having a bad game and having to go home with it. I feel like it made me better player because I constantly heard about it and it would get to the point where I felt I had to work on it, had to get better.”
Carey became friendly with Delaney Rudd through his recruiting of his AAU and high school players.
The Mountaineers tried to land Rudd out of high school but that wasn’t going to happen.
“I didn’t think that much about West Virginia early in my recruiting process because I was so stuck on the ACC, but they stuck around and knew my abilities,” she said.
But after two years at NC State she realized it wasn’t where she was best served.
“I was looking for a better situation for my basketball career,” she said. “I knew if I came here I’d be put in the best situation possible with coach Carey and all the things he knows I can do. It fit my abilities.”
And he fit the kind of coach she had always known, someone who would coach her hard, although she admits she didn’t know how hard.
“But he did warn me before I came,” she said. “I told him it was no big deal. I know it’s all out of love and to make me better.”
Still, there was that moment when it hit her what she’d gotten into.
“The first time I was sent to the treadmill I kind of wanted to cry but I got sent six more times so I couldn’t cry. I just got back on the court,” she said with a laugh.
“Her dad coached her hard, no doubt,” Carey said. “I’m like a teddy bear to her now.”
There was something else that made her wonder what she’d gotten herself into when she arrived.
“One of the first things I saw here when I got here was six inches of snow and that was a huge change from North Carolina,” she said.
But she knows she made the right decision to come to WVU.
“It was really sad for me at first, making the decision to leave my family,” she admitted. “I knew I wanted to do something with basketball, so I knew I had to make the best decision for myself. It was best for me to move away five hours. It’s not like I can’t get to my family if it’s needed.”