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December 15, 2018

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Dad’s words at a UNLV game inspired prep star to reach goal of playing there

Lady Rebels win Mountain West

Courtesy photo

The UNLV women’s basketball team celebrates winning the Mountain West conference regular season title on March 2, 2018, after being Utah State 68-58.

Las Vegas has always had a place in the heart of Keyana Wilfred.

Her father lives there. It's also where he took Wilfred to her first UNLV basketball game when she was a young child.

"When I got there I was amazed," the Mitchell, Neb., senior recalls. "They were like superstars and I wanted their autographs and everything. When (my dad) told me I could be one of those girls out there, I was so starstruck, it was so crazy to think that I could be one of the girls out there."

Dad was right. On Thursday, Wilfred signed her letter of intent to play basketball at UNLV.

"He's super excited because I get to be close to him and I get to play at a high level," Wilfred said Wednesday. "Ever since (watching my first UNLV game), it just drove myself to be better and to work hard and get to that level."

Wilfred enjoyed a breakout junior season at Class C-1 Mitchell, averaging 18.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game en route to first-team all-state honors.

The 6-foot-2 post player lives with her mom in Mitchell. In the summers, she lives with her dad in Las Vegas and plays club ball for the Las Vegas Storm, which allowed her to gain a lot of exposure at big tournaments.

Wilfred had interest from 10-12 schools, she said, but she couldn't pass up playing for the Runnin' Rebels.

"I've been going there for almost 10 years every summer, and I've just grown to love the city and the environment there and all the people," she said.

Wilfred is among the top post players in the state. Her offseason focus was on "coordination."

"I had a lot of trouble just with the movement and quickness, so this summer I was able to build that through extension training," she said. "I trained every day, all day."