COURTSIDE: Kadaja Bailey Finds Her Groove

Jillian Ortiz, Assistant Copy Editor

For Kadaja Bailey, a simple switch in colors and a different area code made all the difference. It was a decision that brought her to a new set of paint, a new group of sisters and a new home.

A Long Beach, N.Y. native, Bailey previously donned blue and white at St. Mary’s High School until she was recruited by Women’s Basketball Head Coach Joe Tartamella during her senior year.

Bailey comes to Queens after leaving St. Mary’s High School as the all-time leading scorer after racking up more than 2,000 points. For the 2017-18 winter season, Bailey was named to Newsday’s All-Long Island Girls Basketball Team.

“Putting on a high school jersey to a college jersey honestly made me feel like I was doing something great for my family. It just felt so wonderful just putting on a St. John’s jersey. Like I’m actually in college about to play in front of my fans and my family,” Bailey said.

For Bailey, her family isn’t limited to those that will be watching her from the stands. It also includes the young women that travel up the court alongside her in red and white. Although she is the only freshman on the roster for the 2018-19 season, Bailey says she isn’t deterred.

“Being the only freshman on the team this year…it doesn’t mean anything to me cause I just feel like I’ve been here all four years already. They just welcomed me as if I’ve been here all with them,” Bailey said.

Bailey recalls that her transition from Long Beach High School to St. Mary’s was an ongoing process throughout her two years at the school. The women’s team at St. John’s has already fostered an environment that Bailey became easily acclimated to. Here, she said she “just fit in right away.”

“It’s honestly such a great feeling, like I didn’t [think I would] experience coming to St. John’s and just falling in and just being a family right away,” she said. “I just thought it would have to take time in order for me to get used to them, but as soon as I got here, I was just already used to them. They just welcomed me home as if I was born with them.”

Junior guard Shamachya Duncan said, “We always want to give off that family vibe and mentality, just to keep our chemistry on and off the court.”  

Although the family sentiment was something she felt from the moment she stepped into the locker room, Bailey says that she is still adjusting to the differences between high school and college play.

“…Coming from a Catholic school straight to college, it was a different type of atmosphere. Like, I wasn’t used to the type of tempo that they push the ball up quick. I was used to just bringing it up slow and then making a play,” Bailey said. “But like, coming here we just push the ball fast and I really wasn’t used to it, but I’m starting to pick it up now though.”

The 6-foot, sixth-ranked wing in the class of 2018 (according to Prospect Nation), looks forward to bringing her skillset to the lineup this season.

Bailey hopes to not only rack up impressive stats for the Red Storm in her first collegiate season, but also gain some notable accolades during her rookie campaign.

“By the end of this season I hope to become freshman of the year,” Bailey said. “That’s what I hope to accomplish.”