Jayhawk Insider: Rising to new heights
By: Adam Sullivan
LAWRENCE, Kan. — The transition from freshman year to sophomore year can be cruicial in the college basketball world. It’s a chance for an athlete to show what they’ve learned in their opening season and the work they’ve put in during the offseason.
For Kansas sophomore Bailey Helgren the improvements she made from her freshman to sophomore season has been noticed by not only her coaches, but her teammates as well.
“Bailey has improved her game a lot both offensively and defensively,” said KU senior Christalah Lyons. “She’s put in the work. She’s gained a lot more muscle, she’s a lot more knowledgeable about the game and I believe she’s better prepared this year than ever.”
The improvements can be seen statistically as well. As a freshman the 6’5 center from Minnesota played in 28 games, tallying 419 minutes to go along with 74 rebounds, 16 blocks and 34 points scored.
As a sophomore, through just three games, Helgren has made a huge difference for the Jayhawks. Helgren has played in 88 minutes, while posting 22 points, 25 rebounds and eight blocks. Individually she has set a new career high in points scored, rebounds and blocks. With 2.7 blocks per game, Helgren leads the Big 12 Conference.
“My role on this team is to protect the rim and rotate,” stated Helgren. “I think this year, I’m more confident and have my timing down better, which has helped me.”
Helgren’s confidence has been evident this season. In the 2018 opener against UMKC, Helgren recorded a career-high five blocks along with a career-high nine rebounds and seven points as KU defeated the Kangaroos, 67-55.
Helgren followed that performance with a nine rebound, one steal and career-high 10 point outing against Oral Roberts as KU won its second game of the year, 70-58. Helgren has not only improved her efficiency, but her overall game.
“She’s a kid that has taken advantage of all of the resources that are provided to student-athletes here,” explained Kansas head coach Brandon Schneider. “From strength and conditioning, sports performance if you will, skill development, nutrition, everything. She’s really approached it the right way and I think has made tremendous progress.”
On Sunday afternoon, Helgren helped Kansas to a 65-54 victory over Alabama A&M. The sophomore scored five points, but was a force on the glass as she ripped down seven rebounds, recorded one block and dished out an assist in the win.
“I think she’s playing to her strengths and put in a lot of work in the off season, just gaining weight and being in the gym,” said Jayhawk senior Jessica Washington “She got seven boards tonight. Just her presence being in the paint, she’s big and tall and we need that in there.”
As Helgren continues to improve, so does Kansas who improved to 3-0 for the second consecutive season. Kansas continues its five-game homestand against George Mason on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. inside Allen Fieldhouse. Fans can watch all of the action on the ESPN+ or listen on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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