Summer 2023 Girls Notebook: Windmills, Recruiting, & A Plea to The IHSA
Heading into anther season of high school hoops, I’m looking to adjust my coverage from what I considered a bit of a monotonous way of aggregating stats and performances with my top performers posts that I discontinued late last year.
I definitely enjoyed highlighting as many girls basketball performers as possible the last few years, and now, heading into what will be my fourth girls hoops season for Illinois-Basketball.com, I’m trying my hand at another way of covering the girls hoopers.
My weekly(ish) notebook will be a brief summary of thoughts I’ve been working on in the week (or whatever amount of time), prior, with a goal of putting out consistent content and still highlighting many players and teams, but with a more open-ended way of writing about them.
I’m a big fan of superlatives just for the sake of recognizing standouts. I’ll be trying out some superlatives through the season because, heck, it’s fun to honor the kiddos! Most of the kids I write about will be in the Chicagoland area, as I’m located in Rogers Park and work in the North Shore, but I’ll be sure each edition of the newsletter to highlight players from all over Illinois.
As much as I’d love to write about every big story, I’m just mostly going to write about what I WANT to write about, simple as that.
A few notes on recent coaching happenings:
"That’s five decades at Richwoods High School. And that’s why I bleed green.”— Adam Duvall (@AdamDuvall) June 17, 2023
Todd Hursey has resigned as the Richwoods girls basketball coach. In his 12 seasons, Hursey went 271-87 (.757) highlighted by winning the 2018 Class 3A state title.#pjsprepshttps://t.co/whcBoVbDo9
COACHES: Some of the biggest jobs in the state came open this offseason, as Stevenson’s Ashley Graham stepped down and her spot was filled by Maine South graduate Regan Carmichael.
Peoria Richwoods coach Todd Hursey resigning means an opening at a program with tremendous history, namely winning a state title under his watch in 2018. The Peoria Journal-Star’s Adam Duvall wrote about Hursey’s departure.
Metamora is a really good spot for girls hoops, with high potential given their recent success in athletics. Michaela Reedy, an East Peoria graduate who coached most recently at Plainfield North, seems like a great fit.
Hersey replaced retiring coach Mary Fendley with Courtney Ludois, who had most recently been at Fremd as an assistant under Dave Yates. She has prior head coaching experience with Richmond-Burton. Ludois at one point had the national record for 3-point shots made while playing at Hononegah, so perhaps fair to guess that these Huskie teams will be ready to shoot from deep. Fremd has certainly had some great sharpshooters in her 10 or so seasons working with the Vikings.
On the note of Dave Yates, best wishes to him and his loved ones as he continues his fight against Brain Cancer.
WINDMILL CITY SHOOTOUT A SLAM DUNK
Batavia ran the Windmill City Weekend Shootout and for all sakes and purposes, it looked like it was an extremely well-run event. Though I did not attend it, the following tidbits caught my eye.
Some eye-opening results from potentially slept-on teams Hyde Park, Phillips, Boylan Catholic and Waubonsie Valley, though it’s summer, so it’s all with a grain of salt.
Marian Catholic’s Madison Davis (2024) could leap into far more conversations after making a huge leap since the start of the 2022-2023 season
Destiny Jackson should have a truly special season this year.
@BHS_GirlsBsktbl put on one of the most quality events we have had the pleasure of competing in.— Alton Girls Basketball (@AltonWbb) June 17, 2023
Thank you for the opportunity to play top teams and get the exposure we have been wanting. Hope to attend again next June! @WCW_NCAA_Live #4-0 #PoolMchampions pic.twitter.com/7riQD9b9kW
Windmill City Weekend: 2025’s On The Rise (Part 1)@emily_troia@ilrockets@lilynewton2025@ILDefendersWBB@ReardonReganne@maggie_helms@FPbasketball@sallyykennedy@RileyCa29423729@GPAgirlsIL@kaitlincass21@HeartofIllinois@HeniganAriellahttps://t.co/kMfr9TRus5— Prep Girls Hoops Illinois (@PGHIllinois) June 18, 2023
Tahj Bloom has been hindered by injury for the better part of two years, so I’ve never seen her play in-person. The Class of 2024 star has been at a different high school each of her three seasons, and I’ve seen some highlights that suggest her injuries are healed quite nicely. It’s hard to duplicate the size and finesse she appears to possess.
She’ll be joined there by Lake Park grad and DePaul transfer Darrione Rogers.
Speaking of the Blue Demons, Aneesah Morrow goes from one of the country’s best players at DePaul to the best player on the floor when she joins the defending national champion LSU Tigers. The Tigers are without a doubt the team to beat in college hoops this season.
DePaul also picked up Angelina Smith (2024) of Bolingbrook, showing the Blue Demons’ continued commitment to recruiting Chicagoland.
Wheaton North’s Claire Hyde always appeared to me to be someone who was a borderline D1 prospect and was probably hindered in her recruitment by how Covid caused college coaches to go after experienced players in the transfer portal at the expense of players who would need a season or two to develop at the highest levels of the sport. But now Morton College has turned yet another player into a D1 product, as Hyde will head to Belmont. Watch out for her there, I think folks in Nashville might just become familiar with her name.
Xamiya Walton (2024) committed to Northwestern back in mid-April, and I’m certainly not upset with the possibility of seeing her play at Northwestern, as I live in Rogers Park, the Chicago neighborhood adjacent to Evanston.
Big Lincoln-Way East forward Hayven Smith (2024) committing to Illinois is a big in-state win for the Fighting Illini who are absolutely skyrocketing under Shauna Green.
Jordan Wood going to Duke after decommitting from Michigan State following a coaching change was perhaps the biggest WOW moment in recruiting this offseason.Whitney Young’s Skylar Jones, committed to Arizona after having been committed to Missouri for a hot minute. That’s two absolute stars in Illinois stepping into higher stature programs
Edwardsville graduate and all-time leading scorer Sydney Harris was the MAC’s Freshman of the Year for Central Michigan this past season, but is gone after a season to play for TCU. Curious if that success translates. Perhaps the southern Illinois native becomes a Big 12 superstar.
Trinity Jones (Naperville Central, 2026) played on the U.S.. U16 girls basketball team in the Americas Championship and racking up offers from the likes of South Carolina, Wisconsin, Penn State, Nebraska and Texas A&M since the start of May she holds plenty of more offers. She scored 19 in a win over Puerto Rico.
While I don’t intend to write too much about transfers, a couple early-summer transfers have shaken the Chicagoland basketball landscape, so it feels necessary to touch on those.
Deerfield’s Nikki Kerstein (2025) is going to Montini Catholic and Aubrey Galvan (2025) will head to Loyola. Loyola Academy did not have a senior on its roster last year and the guard-oriented team becomes a legit state title threat with a floor general like Galvan at the helm. Wondering already how on-ball off-ball offense will be run between two of the state’s guards with immense tools in Galvan and Paige Engels.
Even in losing a D1 player in Shannon Blacher (NIU), Kerstein makes Montini Catholic as big a threat as its been since its state-title winning ways under Jason Nichols. And now, to think that that this GCAC matchup will have even more flavor to it this season.
There’s plenty of freshmen to be excited about. Some folks have taken then time to jump in the DMs and say hey, take a look at this star-in-the-making!
One I’m quite curious about is Aaliyah Flores (2027), who has been playing with St. Laurence this summer. She’s got size, finishes well at the rim, can create open looks from the perimeter and seems quite comfortable against older competition in the highlight clips I’ve seen of hers.
Schaumburg won 12 consecutive games in the summer last I checked, and I wouldn’t be surprised to be slotting them in my top 25 rankings for the first time at some point this upcoming season. We’ll see how that predictions looks in about *checks notes* 6 months.
UP ON MY PEDESTAL
It’s time to preach from my keyboard pulpit. I can GUARANTEE far more athletes in Illinois would get closer attention that their friends, family and fans would love if more statistics were easily accessible. MaxPreps is not the answer. In Iowa, stats for near every sport are mandated to be entered on gobound.com on Iowa’s state page. I utilized it for every sport when I was a sports reporter in the southwest corner of the state, (back then it was called Quikstats). The IHSA would be doing fans a great (and deserved) service by requiring teams enter their statistics in every available sport to gobound.com on Illinois’ page.
Batavia utilized Gobound.com for the shootout, and the information from the games was easily accessible. Scores, pool standings, matchups, etc were readily available.
Now I know some schools/coaches would decry the mandate to enter that information, talking about time and labor it would take to input stats, but seeing as how Hudl assist is already utilized for such stat-taking, surely schools/programs could find a way to do this.
And I’m not only coming from this as a media nerd alone. I coach football, as well as track and field. Track and field already has great sites in place with Athletic.net and Milesplit. PLEASE IHSA, get schools on the gobound.com train.