FILA Event Will Have X-Citement

New Illinois State leader Barb Smith is one of the coaches who will be watching Illinois X-Citement this summer.

Midwest power Illinois X-Citement is attacking the 2013 summer circuit with a different approach. After reviewing his talented, deep roster, X-Citement president Xaver Walton decided to have two elite travel teams.

“We’ve never done this before, but I think this is going to work out well because we have two very strong teams,” said Walton, who is serving as the head coach for both squads. “We took all of or players from the Class of 2014 and put them on our X-Citement Team, and then we put our younger players on our X-Citement Joi team.”

Both teams will look to make their mark at the FILA Nationals. The FILA Nationals, which will include over 100 national teams, will be played at the Suwanee Sports Academy outside of Atlanta from July 6-8. This is one part of a series of previews for the FILA Nationals where we will highlight the outstanding programs who will be competing.

The veteran X-Citement Team is anchored by a strong backcourt and a pair of post players. Shami Goodman and Brianna Morrison are both 5-8, and they have both been with the program since the seventh grade. Goodman is listed as the No. 116 recruit in the Class of 2014 by the All Star Girls Report, and Morrison comes in at No. 371.

“Having those two out there running the show gives a coach a good feeling,” Walton said. “They have been with us for a long time, and they know how we want to do things.”

The frontline is covered by 6-4 Kandase Tate and 6-2 Claire Finn. Tate, who is listed at No. 552 by ASGR, brings length and inside scoring ability, while Finn is a true five player down low.

While the Joi squad highlights the younger stars in the program, perhaps the key to Walton’s two-team approach is Adebisi Mabodu. A 6-1 post player who is listed as the No. 462 recruit in the Class of 2014, Mabodu brings critical size, strength and experience to the Joi lineup.

“She is the reason that these kids can compete with the national elite teams. We have to have her in the middle,” Walton explained.

Mabodu is paired with 6-1 power forward Dasia Evans (2016) on the Joi front line. The team’s perimeter is loaded with explosive young athletes, including Tierra Webb (2015, 5-8), Tierney Lockett (2015, 5-7, No. 173), Nadia Green (2017, 5-9) and Cymone Goodrich (2017, 5-9).

“We’re very excited about what these young players have been able to do,” Walton said. “There are a number of players on that team that have very bright futures.”