Batavia girls basketball coach Kevin Jensen has had his fair share of athletes go on to collegiate athletics, but Monday may have been the first time he was yelping for joy after hearing a college decision.
Tessa Towers, a 6-5 rising senior, made official her commitment to the Wisconsin Badgers after a visit and offer on June 16. Towers met with prospective future teammates and picked up good vibes immediately.
“I just have a feeling this is it,” Jensen recalls Towers telling him.
Jensen’s response: Why wait or prolong what seems to be a natural fit?
“It’s a dream come true,” Towers said.
“I could just see how they treat their players there and it’s just amazing,” Towers said. “I just wanted to go to a school where there’s a good coaching staff and there’s coaches who care about their players … all their players told me that that they do deeply care.”
Towers shared the thrill of her decision with those closest to her.
“My family, they’re all so excited for me,” Towers said. “My mom, she was so excited as well. She loves Wisconsin. She was so excited for me to get the next chapter of my life done.”
The Badgers women’s basketball program, featuring multiple Illinois natives already, is heading into its first season under coach Marisa Moseley. Brooke Schramek of Naperville (Benet Academy) and former Lake Forest star Halle Douglass will be sophomores. Both Illinois natives played over 17 minutes per game as freshmen as the Badgers went 5-19.
A unanimous all-conference player in the DuKane Conference this past season, Towers is a double-double machine with top-level strength on the block. Jensen said that there are things about her game that would surprise observers who just see Towers for her size, citing her ability to run the floor, improving leadership qualities and overall athleticism.
Jensen believes Towers has plenty of untapped potential and certainly has high hopes for what she can do for the Badgers. But for now, he has reason to be thrilled about a Batavia Bulldogs team that has as much talent as any in his decade-plus tenure in the role. Towers is central to that.
“She has the capability to be utterly dominant,” Jensen said. “She could put up a 20-rebound game like nothing. She could get six blocks like nothing. She’s not going to do it every night, but you might see a 30- or 40-point night this season. Even if he doesn’t have those things, she affects the game in so many ways.”
In a 5-11 season, Batavia found itself in close games with some of the Chicagoland suburbs’ stronger area programs like Burlington Central (a 63-60 loss), South Elgin (56-49 win), Lake Park (losses by 59-55 and 72-69), Geneva (a 60-57 loss) and St. Charles North (a 49-46 win).
The Bulldogs will face another tough schedule in 2021-22, but with a fellow Division I recruit Brooke Carlson — a rising sophomore — back to lead the way at point guard, Batavia has plenty of reason to be optimistic about the upside of this squad. Jensen said Carlson is one of the toughest and most explosive players he’s ever coached.
“I think we’re pretty good as a pair,” Towers said. “Me and her, we work so well together. She is such a great passer … She can move the ball around so well. I feel like me and her this year are going to be unstoppable.”
With the Bulldogs competing with a renewed hunger at the Geneva and Morton College summer leagues, Jensen can’t help but have a certain ring to his voice as he anticipates what’s to come.
“I can see in a lot of their eyes, even what we’ve done in the summer, the level of focus and the level of seriousness in which they’re taking even the little things, from my standpoint,” Jensen said. “It’s really fun to see.”
Towers wants to expand her shooting range and level of comfort further from the basket this season. She’s just fine taking her time before ultimately taking her quiet, but growing confidence to Madison.
“I want to help my team as much as I can,” Towers said. “I just want to have a great senior year this year and play our hardest and make it as far as we can.”