By Kaleb Carter
Huntley class of 2023 star Jessie Ozzauto recalls heading into her junior season with a renewed attitude geared toward success.
“I was just having that confidence of, ‘Ok, just shoot the ball because you’re a good shooter,’” Ozzauto said she was telling herself. “I think that’s a major thing that has helped.”
The multi-sport Red Raider excelled enough as a junior to begin drawing Division I attention, and soon had Lehigh University making a move that drew her own attention.
“One of my coaches from my old AAU team reached out and said they [Lehigh] were interested, so I started talking to them probably about a year ago,” Ozzauto said. “I’ve been talking to them a bunch. The associate head coach actually flew out to Huntley to watch a game.”
On June 2, the multi-faceted and nearly six-foot shooting guard committed to the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania institution. She’ll play for a team that piqued her interest for a variety of reasons, notably due to the temperament the unit exhibits.
Coming off a 19-11 (overall) season, 11-7 in Patriot League play, the Mountain Hawks are in a time of transition, where former associate head coach Addie Micir takes over as head coach following a 27-year tenure from former coach Sue Troyan.
“The energy that they have is what sticks out to me,” Ozzauto said. “No matter who scores or what happens, I feel like the energy is always up.”
Ozzauto will return to Huntley this year after a summer with the Illinois Lady Lightning, looking to help the Red Raiders repeat as FVC champs. She’s coming off a season where she averaged 12 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.4 steals, and sank a team-high 56 3-pointers (courtesy of Alex Kantecki, Northwest Herald).
Fellow rising senior and all-conference returnee Sammi Campanelli is back, as should be fellow senior Morgan McAughn. Also coming back into the fold is rising sophomore Anna Campanelli, who already holds a D-I offer from Fort Wayne. The Red Raiders are coming off a regional championship and a 22-7 overall record, winning the FVC at 17-1.
After a great unofficial visit, I’m extremely excited and grateful to have received an offer to play for Purdue University Fort Wayne!! Thank you to @CoachMarchesano and her incredible coaching staff for this opportunity! #FeelTheRumble @LadyLightningIL @HuntleyGBB pic.twitter.com/P5THYJYQXa— Anna Campanelli (@_annacampanelli) June 6, 2022
“That team was super fun to play with,” Ozzauto said. “We didn’t know really what to expect coming into that season. Jori (Heard) helped us out a bunch because of her skill rebounding-wise. I think all-around, every single person on that team took it to themselves to own up defensively.
“This (past) year we shot it really well too, which was something that wasn’t really part of our offense much,” she continued. “And that just started to form this year, just because of the way we were able to push the floor and the way we were able to get stops defensively and how that created our offense.”
A track athlete since middle school, Ozzauto has had no trouble staying busy outside of basketball season, playing both sportsl simultaneously. Last month, she was on the 4×200 relay team for the Red Raiders that took seventh place at the 3A state meet. She was also on the 4×100 team that qualified for day two of the state meet and the 4×400 unit that qualified for the meet.
“I think the footwork that comes from both, I think they both really correlate with each other,” Ozzauto said “I’m in a relay for track so especially the chemistry and trust, it actually translates to basketball as well.”
Too many pictures to choose from!! Here is your first ever relay team to medal in program history! pic.twitter.com/En8mryFE3B— RedRaiderGirlsT&F (@RedRaiders_GTF) May 21, 2022
The soon-to-be senior knows she needs to improve in all aspects of her game to prepare for the Division I level. While undecided on a major, she has interest in sports psychology.
“I think just overall making my game better on both ends of the floor, it’s college, it’s way more physical, you have to find different ways to get your shot off,” Ozzauto said. “I think adding more aspects to my game and just getting better all-around … it’s not simple. It’s not as simple as high school or AAU might be. There’s more complex steps and creating different opportunities for myself and for teammates.”