Path to Greatness: Kayla Belles

Michigan State freshman Kayla Belles shoots free throws during practice.

As far back as she can remember, Kayla Belles has been known for her work on the court.

"Everybody knew me for basketball or volleyball," the 6-foot-3 freshman at Michigan State said. "It's high school. I'm big, I'm different."

A devastating knee injury the summer before her senior season at Ithaca High School changed that.

"When that was all taken away and the spotlight is no longer on Kayla Belles," she said. "I had to realize what God was trying to show me."

Belles missed her senior season with a torn ACL in her left knee. She was on track to be a finalist for the Miss Michigan basketball award given to the best high school player in the state.

It happened at a summer basketball camp at Adrian Community College. Belles says she hurt it during her fourth game of the first day of camp.

"I went to do a post move and the girl hit me on the inside of the knee and I just went down."

Belles committed to Michigan State and worked hard to be ready for summer workouts.

"I did a week of individual workouts with the post players," Belles said. "It was going so good."

Belles injured her meniscus, meaning doctors had to go back in to fix her knee again.

"I was really nervous that (Michigan State women's basketball coach) Suzy (Merchant) was going to lose interest in me because I was hurt."

"It's hard to find big girls that actually have a motor," Merchant said. " I was really excited about that with her and also just she's got a really good skill set and is extremely coachable."

Overall, Belles has been through four operations on her knee. She's been relegated to the exercise bike or stationary dribbling drills for most of practice.

"My ball-handling has improved, for sure," Belles said. "I want to be running. I want to be out there blocking shots. I want to know what it feels like to jump again and actually get a rebound."

Belles hopes her Michigan State debut comes in December or early January.

"Just having coach look at me and say 'Kayla go get her', it just gets me so excited."

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