Destiny Jackson will only be a freshman this fall, but she is already a steady presence for the Whitney Young girls basketball team — a program that, by last count, had won at least 15 games over the summer without a loss.
Kaleb Carter of Illinois-Basketball spoke with Jackson on Thursday, June 24, after Whitney Young won summer league games against Kenwood and Batavia. Several days later Jackson picked up offers from Ohio State and Illinois after already having an offer from Arizona State.
Illinois-Basketball: How has it been getting acclimated to varsity with your teammates during this summer ball league?
Destiny Jackson: “It’s been great, I really like my teammates. I like how we bond together and we haven’t even had as many practices or games as most people, but I like how things are going so far.”
I-B: What’s nice about the (bench’s production) and depth this summer?
DJ: “It’s definitely nice to have a bench full of people who just come in the game and be what the starting lineup can be.”
I-B: Did you set any goals coming into this summer league, things you wanted to accomplish individually or as a group?
DJ: “Just molding together as a team really. It’s not really individually. I’m a pass-first point guard, so it’s about my team, just molding together as a team.“
I-B: Are you all as a team setting goals for the upcoming winter season?
DJ: “Yes, we want to win city and state. Definitely. We want to go undefeated if it’s a possibility.”
I-B: Facing Kenwood is a great chance to test to see where you’re at. Even knowing they’ll still have other players back (a pair of starters that didn’t play Thursday), how nice was it to make a statement like that?
DJ: It was great, Kenwood and Whitney Young have some type of rivalry, so it was great just being able to beat Kenwood the first time we come out. The way we beat them was great.”
I-B: Have you had a chance to attend some college camps?
DJ: “I actually just went to the Louisville camp and they said they loved me. They said they’d reach out to my coach so that’s the only camp I’ve been to so far, but I’m going to go to the Marquette camp and Purdue camp.”
Butler College Prep’s triumphant trio of Camille Jackson, Xamiya Walton and Christin Brewer are helping the Lynx take on all comers this summer, showcasing talent that has had Division I colleges calling steadily.
Class of 2022 guard Camille Jackson returns for one last go around after leading her squad to consecutive Noble League championships.
At Morton College’s summer league, the Lynx played tough against one of the better programs in the state in Kenwood, and then ran past St. Ignatius Thursday. The scores mattered less than the chemistry displayed on the floor for one of Chicago’s better small class programs.
“We’re on a roll and we have a lot to accomplish, but it also means we’re getting better as a program,” Jackson said.
With collegiate offers rolling in at the Division I level, Jackson has expressed the most interest in DePaul and Illinois.
“So far, I’m narrowing it down, getting closer to making an announcement, but it’s been DePaul and Illinois so far,” Jackson said.
Jackson isn’t the only one drawing interest from big midwest programs.
Walton (class of 2024), has wowed due to her handles and shooting ability. Loyola, Illinois, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Western Michigan, Memphis and Xavier have all extended offers.
“It feels really great with these colleges showing interest because it’s what we work for,” Walton said. “Seeing the hard work pay off, it’s showing that you should be where you are and deserve everything. It’s really nice talking to these colleges, staying in touch and stuff and talking to new schools every week.”
All three of the Lynx expressed that competing against the state’s best teams helps prepare them for the regular season. For Butler, that means continuing its dominance of the Noble League.
“I feel like it’s a big accomplishment,” Brewer said of winning a second consecutive Noble title last season. “We didn’t have that much time to practice and have a season so to win it as a team, it was really good.”
“Once they said we’d have a Noble championship, we said we’d win it,” Walton said. “So I think that was nice to get us going for the summer league and we’re hoping to let this roll into next season.”
Lynx coach Xaver Walton, Xamiya Walton’s father, expressed that he felt Brewer would have drawn more attention from strong college programs if given the chance with a full season last year.
And while Brewer, a 6-1 forward with improving ball-handling skills, is hoping that she is playing college ball next year while studying business administration, she’s fine focusing on the now.
“This summer we’ve got out of this (Morton) tournament [becoming] more conditioned working as a team, bonding, [learning] how to play together,” Brewer said.
That doesn’t mean the Lynx don’t have big goals.
“We’ve been stressing we want to be state champions for our (class), Jackson said, with her teammates in agreement
Young’s Jones and Jackson drawing attention
Whitney Young’s lengthy class of 2023 forward Skylar Jones showcased the athleticism and skill on the block that showed why schools like DePaul, Syracuse and Miami have felt the need to extend an offer. Tanila Marshall, a now-senior, combines with Jones to give the Dolphins an improving and athletic presence around the rim.
Jones was part of a Dolphins group that went undefeated in 12 games over the course of the summer league.
“Skylar just got back from Louisville camp,” Whitney Young coach Krissy Harper said. “She is definitely a player to watch and everybody should know about her.”
Harper added about complementary guard Olivia Vick (class of 2023), who combos with Lily Montalvo (2023) for a swift and skilled backcourt: “Dead eye shooter. She’s actually working now on her mid-range and putting the ball on the floor and expanding her game. But if you leave her open for the three, she will knock it down.”
On top of all that returning talent, Young adds freshman point guard Destiny Jackson who already holds offers from Illinois and Ohio State.
“Our freshman is so good,” Harper said. “She came in with confidence. As a point guard you need that. She’s leading the team and she’s doing an excellent job.”
Broncos finding form
Kenwood’s Whitney Dunn (2022) has led the way in the absence of injured top prospect Brianna McDaniel (2022) while getting help from a supporting cast that’s finding its way. Freshman Ariella Hennigan showed talent in bursts, while Ayanna Jackson (2023), Jazelle Young (2023) and Ariana Williams (2024) proved exciting, especially so against Butler. Jackson in particular was a playmaker of note, scoring in the post, making timely passes and more.
It will be exciting to see DonYeil Bolton, a senior forward with multiple college offers, and McDaniel this winter when they return to the floor.
First look at Example Academy
Example Academy, perhaps the most talented program in the summer league, is a newly founded prep program with players carried over from Example Sports’ AAU program. With a boatload of Division I and other collegiate-level talent, the likes of Jasmine Brown, Kennise Johnson-Etienne, Madisyn Saracco, Nakiyah Mays-Prince among others will be highly coveted and written about aplenty in the coming years.