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The Bolingbrook Panther program in Illinois has been fielding outstanding teams for a number of years, and that trend will continue in the spring of 2015.
“We are very excited about the upcoming season,” said Coach Chris Smith. “We have a very talented group, particularly in the 2016, ’17 and ’18 classes. We have a number of very good players back from last year, and we’ve added some new blood that is going to help.”
That talent pool will be showcased at the Bolingbrook home court at the Chicago Memorial Day Classic. The event, which will be hosted by the All Star Girls Report staff, will be played on May 23.
Smith and the Panthers are looking forward to the event.
“The All Star Girls Report staff set the standard for the way a college exposure event should be run,” Smith said. “They have good people, and they run things on schedule. A lot of it has to do with accessibility. When you look at an event like the Deep South, where they have everything in one building, that makes everything work well. If we take four teams to an event like that, they will all be together so that they can support each other, and all the college coaches will be in that same building.”
The Bolingbrook roster will be loaded with elite prospects, including 2016 standouts Nicole Ekhomu (5-9, G, rated as the No. 22 recruit in her class by ASGR) and Deja Cage (5-9, G). In the Class of 2017, the Panthers have Ty Battle (6-1, WF) and Jnaya Walker (6-1, WF); and the 2018 roster has Gabby Smith (5-10, G) and Jahri Smith (6-2, P).
“Nicole is an explosive offensive player, and a shut down defender,” Smith said. “Deja is a tremendous offensive weapon. She is a deadly three-point shooter, and she can attack the basket. Ty is the daughter of (former Illinois All-American) Kenny Battle, and she is an inside-outside player. Jnaya is another inside-outside player, and she does a lot of the dirty work for us. Gabby has tremendous shooting range, and she can put the ball on the floor. Jahri is a classic, back-to-the-basket post player who rebounds, finishes inside and blocks shots.”
Bret McCormick, the analyst for the All Star Girls Report, also gave his report on the Panther standouts.
“Ekhomu is a great athlete who can score the basketball,” McCormick said. “She is explosive in the open floor, and she has a great mid-range game. Cage is another big-time scorer who has a variety of ways to hurt a defense.
“Walker is a strong, versatile athlete who could play multiple positions. She can put the ball on the deck, and she has three-point range. Battle is a long athlete who has good inside moves, and she is comfortable out on the perimeter. Gabby Smith is an athletic two-three type who can go coast to coast, or hit the three. Jahri Smith is a low block post who can score in the lane and she has a good motor.”
Photo by Stephen Carrera/Northwestern Athletics