The women’s NCAA tournament is ongoing right now and it has not disappointed fans one bit. The tournament has proven to be exciting and has continued to keep fans on the edge of their seats. There have been a few physical altercations as well. Memphis Tigers’ Jamirah Shutes was recently charged with assault after punching Elissa Brett. However, Hailey Van Lith, on the other hand, seems to be impressing the basketball community.
For those who don’t know, Hailey was once mentored by the great Kobe Bryant. Reports claim that she was a friend of Kobe’s daughter, Gianna Bryant, as well. Both Gigi and Kobe passed away in a horrific helicopter crash in 2020.
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The Black Mamba once watched Hailey put in a shift and drop 35 points for Cashmere High School. After the game, Kobe even recognized the talent Hailey had and posted an image with her on Instagram as well.
Kobe Bryant recognized Hailey Van Lith’s talent even before she was making waves on social media
Hailey has revealed in the past that it was Kobe’s entourage that reached out to her. She said to the Los Angeles Times, “The text was from one of Kobe’s main guys, I called him ‘T,’ and he just basically said that Kobe knew about me, loved my game and really wanted to get me to L.A. to work with him and talk about basketball.”
“I couldn’t believe it, that he actually knew who I was and thought I was a good player. When I later asked him, ‘Why me?’ he basically said the way I play, my work ethic and mentality on the court, reminded him of himself, and it compelled him to reach out to me,” Van Lith added.
It just makes her journey even more special when it’s evident that Kobe knew what she could do at such a young age. Right now, Hailey is playing for the Lousville Cardinals, representing the University of Louisville. She has been one of the best players for the Cardinals this year at the NCAA tournament. The Cardinals are into the Elite Eight after beating the Ole Miss Rebels recently.
Hailey is averaging 19.5 points in the 2022-23 season, along with 4.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists. She has been a crucial part to the Cardinals’ success this year. She put up 21 points against Ole Miss as well. In 2022, they lost to the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Final Four, a game that Hailey started as well.
Although she has had quite a rough start to her college basketball career, it sure looks like she is warmed up and ready to prove herself now. Hailey will be aiming to lead the Cardinals to the title this year, but she might already be making her late mentor proud with her performances on the court in recent times.