Too often, Late Night skit participants look like basketball players trying to come off as show-business performers and in the process look like, well, basketball players.
And then there is Kelly Kohn, who looks right at home in the spotlight, dressing the part of a Hollywood starlet, dancing up a storm. Kohn, the unquestioned star during non-basketball portions of curtain-raising night for the past three women’s basketball seasons, makes her performance swan song tonight.
When the dancing begins, Kohn has a way of drawing all eyes onto her. In what character will she perform tonight?
“I can’t tell you,” she said. “You have to come, but I guarantee you if you’ve been the past three years and have been impressed, it will be nothing compared to (tonight). We’re going out with a bang. I’m telling you right now, our senior class is going out with a bang. Gotta be there to see it.”
A 5-foot-9 guard from Adrian, Mich., Kohn started all 31 games as a freshman and averaged 9.8 points. In the next two seasons combined, she started four games and averaged 3.1 points. That doesn’t mean she hasn’t improved. It’s an indication the growth of coach Bonnie Henrickson’s team.
“You’re going to have to play the best five players on the court, and Bonnie does a great job of that,” Kohn said. “She’s a great coach. It’s all about getting better individually and hoping that’s what the team needs at the time.”
Kohn, who said she thinks her gymnastics training at a young age might have set the foundation for her dance moves, might have enjoyed being the star of a less competitive college team, but she said she never has wondered about that.
“I’ve never regretted coming here,” she said. “Ever. I love my teammates. I love my coaches. I love the school. I love Lawrence, Kan. I love everything about playing basketball here. I play with great players, and I play in a great conference. I wouldn’t want to play in any other conference. Big 12 is the best conference in the country.”
A communications major, Kohn said several friends have given her the same career advice: “I’ve been told by so many people, ‘We’ve got to get you in front of a camera, broadcasting.’”
What about heading to Hollywood and giving acting a shot? She said she could see herself “doing some kind of acting,” but has been so consumed with basketball she hasn’t given it any serious thought.
You won’t spot her on your television playing in a WNBA game, but it’s conceivable James Lipton, host of Inside the Actors Studio, one day could ask her how she got her start in acting. Kohn laughed at the prospect and recited her imaginary answer.
“I got started in Allen Fieldhouse,” she said. “My Late Nights. They set me up for success in Hollywood.”
Stranger things have happened.