By: Nate Schneider
Ithaca senior Kayla Belles makes decision to continue hoops career at Michigan State
Kayla Belles had no shortage of college suitors lining up giving their best pitch.
In the end, the Ithaca 6-foot-3 standout center chose to continue her basketball career at Michigan State University as she verbally committed to the Spartans in mid-August.
Belles committed to MSU the night before undergoing surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee, suffered during a summer camp at Adrian College.
The injury will keep Belles out of action the entirety of the 2017-18 school year at Ithaca which deprives her of a senior year of volleyball, basketball and soccer.
Belles has been a dominating force on the basketball court since her freshman year with the Yellowjackets, highlighted by a 25-point and 36-rebound game against Sanford-Meridian in Class C districts. The rebound total makes as second-most in a game in MHSAA history.
After earning Class C first team All-State honors as a freshman with averages of 14.5 points and 13.2 rebounds per game, she upped the totals to 18.3 points plus 13 rebounds and four blocked shots per as a sophomore to again capture All-State honors.
Belles also had the opportunity to play on her future home court of the Breslin Center in March of 2016, guiding Ithaca to the state semifinals where they lost to top-ranked Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.
The Yellowjackets bumped up to Class B for the 2016-17 campaign and Belles led the way to a regional finals appearance with a young roster around her. She garnered All-State honors once again, putting in 19.4 points along with 12.2 rebounds, 3.4 blocks and 2.6 steals.
With the rest of the Ithaca roster gaining in experience around her heading into this winter, losing Belles for the season was devastating for everyone involved.
Belles is expected to make a full recovery upon joining Michigan State next fall, where she will be coached by 11th-year head coach Suzy Merchant. The Spartans finished 21-11 overall and made the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time under Merchant last March.