Commitment Notebook: Pellegrini a shooting star, headed to Bemidji State

In helping to lead St. Charles North to its first 20-win season since 2010, Talia Pellegrini exhibited an efficient 3-point shot, and an ability to stay in control on drives and cuts to the hoop.

Talia Pellegrini – Provided photo

“(A) tireless worker, blur in transition, loves to run the floor and attack the paint,” St. Charles North coach Mike Tomczak said about Pellegrini.

Pellegrini is set to take that tireless approach to Division II, Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference program Bemidji State, where the senior aims to fill a role similar to the steady production she provides the Stars. She described the culture by saying, “It felt like home to me.”

“The team culture at Bemidji is very positive and the players and coaching staff are bought in to the program they are creating,” Pellegrini said. “This level of basketball will challenge me because it is an extremely high level of play and I want to make a large impact on the court and be a game changer for the team.”

After averaging 10 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals while shooting 70% from beyond the free-throw line as a junior, Pellegrini is dead set on improving her shooting. Thanks to time spent in the gym, downtime during quarantine working on her game and action on the hardwood for Illinois Rockets AAU, Pellegrini is setting her sights higher.

“Shooting is definitely what I have worked on the most as I would shoot for an hour at the gym everyday before school,” Pellegrini said. “I have also continuously been working to get faster and stronger.”

Pellegrini credits her parents, coaches and teammates for helping push her forward and says her goal is to lead the Stars to a regional title.

“Last season, my SCN team had our first 20-win season in over 10 years,” Pellegrini said. My goal is to help guide my team to winning a regional title this year.”

While she is still looking forward this season, Pellegrini knew she could relish the feeling of making a long-held goal come to fruition.

“This has been a dream of mine since the first time I ever touched a basketball,” Pellegrini said. “I have faced many challenges along this journey that have helped me grow as a person and a player. I have worked extremely hard to achieve this goal and I firmly believe hard work will pay off and that you should never give up.”

One purple for another

Dixon senior Abby Guthrie will trade her Duchess purple for the purple of Wisconsin-Whitewater next fall, a decision she announced by way of Twitter Thursday.

On a recent visit to Whitewater for a basketball skills camp, Guthrie received feedback from players in the program that made her all the more confident in the idea of attending the school. She had already fallen in love with Whitewater’s “big” school in the small-town atmosphere that put Dixon in her mind while visiting.

She said of future teammate Kacie Carollo, the daughter of head coach Kari Carollo, “This is the type of person I want on my team in the future.”

Even with the decision made, Guthrie remains giddy.

“It makes me more excited every single time I think of it,” Guthrie said.

An integral part of a Big Northern stronghold that has won a combined 71 games and two conference championships over the past three seasons (two as a starter), Guthrie has contributed in a big way from her shooting guard spot. 

Averaging 12 points per game as a first-year starter as a sophomore, then 13.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals as a junior, Guthrie led the charge for a Dixon team that rode a 10-game winning streak into a 3A regional championship before running into stronghold Sycamore and now Iowa State freshman Kylie Feuerbach. 

Whitewater, like Dixon, is a perennial winner, having posted a 23-4 record and a 13-1 conference mark a season ago.

“We’ve been a winning team and [had] over 20 wins every year (I’ve played), and it definitely makes me want to continue that in college and it definitely prepares me for the culture in Whitewater,” Guthrie said.

With length that aids her defensive play, an ability to create scoring opportunities in the mid-range and a 3-point shot to complement her scoring, Guthrie is an integral cog of a Dixon program that just keeps winning.

“(She’s an) incredibly hardworking kid who loves the game, good person who does the right things off the court as well,” Dixon coach Luke Ravlin said.

Now, Guthrie says, she’s just excited to make the most of her senior year, which — if nothing changes — means Nov. 16 can’t come soon enough.

Melby to soar with Skyhawks

Newly committed to Ohio Valley Conference program Tennessee-Martin, Naperville Central senior Gabi Melby is one of an extraordinary strong group of returning seniors in the DuPage Valley Conference.

First-team all-conference DVC returners include teammates Lauren Umbright and Karly Maida; Naperville North’s Greta Kampschroeder, who committed to Oregon State, and Allison Kickel; Neuqua Valley’s Claudia Gallegos; and Waubonsie Valley’s Lauren McKnight are all potentially back as seniors.

Safe to say, Melby will be competing in a loaded league that will prepare her for a high level of basketball.

As a senior point guard with a litany of scorers to distribute to and exceptional ball-handling abilities, the Division I commit should make for an exciting spectacle on the floor for the Redhawks in her last varsity season.

The Skyhawks are coming off a 22-10, 16-2 record in the OVC in 2019-2020, in a championship-winning season.

Rice lands in Springfield

On June 30, Rock Island’s Jordan Rice tweeted that Illinois-Springfield was his first collegiate scholarship offer for basketball. Rice rewarded the Division II program with a verbal commitment Thursday.

Not only a distributor on the basketball court as a point guard, Rice was also a talented soccer player, as Drake Lansman wrote about in the Rock Island Dispatch-Argus.

Dimovski finds strength, landing spot at Edgewood

A strong effort in a 19-point, 10-assist performance in a win over Proviso East last year demonstrated the type of performance Dimovski has wanted to show himself capable of. Gaining strength has been one of the biggest steps toward realizing lifelong goals.

Thursday afternoon, Dimovski shared his commitment to Division III Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, part of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference.

 “I have known ever since I was a kid that I wanted to play in college, my dream school was always Ohio State and sometimes things don’t pan out as you expect but I am very blessed to be able to play at Edgewood next year,” Dimovski said. “One of the biggest things I have been working on is my strength as a whole. I have been weight lifting at MFC Sports Performance 3-5 days a week for the last 5 years which has helped my game a ton.”

As Chris Traczek detailed for the the Daily Herald in the previously linked article, the Mustangs finished better overall. After a 2-13 start to the season, the Proviso East win marked four wins in six games for Downers Grove South. Max Preps lists DGS’ year-end record as 9-19.

“Last year was tough on all of us — the players, the coaches, the fans,” Dimovski said. “We had games we were very competitive and games were we struggled. For me personally — I kept trusting my ability, my skill set, my teammates and my coaches. Last year is behind us now and I can’t wait for this season to start.”

The longtime commitment to getting stronger is part of Dimovski’s continued determination to, as he put it, “lead my team to wins down the stretch.”

Last season, the then-junior point guard scored 10 points per game, averaged 3.5 assists, shot 33% from behind the arc and shot 70% on free throws.

The jump to Edgewood, where he’ll play the vast majority of his games in southern Wisconsin, is a short time away, but Dimovski still retains goals for this upcoming, uncertain season.

“I would like to win the conference (West Suburban) and a regional championship,” Dimovski said. “As far as college I am excited to play at the next level and will work hard and twice as hard to be competitive and contribute in college.”

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