Young Stars To Shine For Bolingbrook In Suwanee, Charlotte

The Bolingbrook Panthers out of Illinois have been enjoying a strong summer, but it is the future that has the program members really excited.

“I have been really happy with the progress this team has made this year,” said Coach Chris Smith. “We have a really young group on our top team — we only have two 2015’s on the roster. Still, they had a good run at the Deep South Classic and went 3-1 against that great competition. We’ve had to have a lot of patience this year, but we’re very, very optimistic about the future.”

The youthful Panthers will be facing more tough competition at the Suwanee Tournament of Champions and the Summer Basketball Playoff. The Suwanee Tournament of Champions will be played outside Atlanta from July 5-8. The event will include 96 elite travel teams, with game being played at the Suwanee Sports Academy. The Suwanee TOC was previously called the FILA Nationals. The Summer Basketball Playoff will follow in Charlotte, NC, from July 27-29. The Summer Basketball Playoff will feature 72 of the nation’s elite club teams. The Playoff will be held at the same time as the Nike Nationals, which will be played two hours away in North Augusta, SC.

The Panthers rely heavily on a quartet of rising stars. That core group includes Nicole Ekhomu (2016, 5-9, G, No. 24 on the All Star Girls Reports rankings of the top players in her class), Jnaya Walker (2017, 6-0, F, No. 36), Ty Battle (2017, 6-1, F, No. 116) and Brittney Patrick (2016, 5-6, PG).
“Nicole is one of the top players in the country in her class,” Smith said. “She is very athletic, and she jumps out of the gym. She has a very effective mid-range game and she can finish with either hand. She can score in transition, or in our half-court offense.
“Jnaya and Ty both have great basketball IQ’s. That is their greatest strength. Jnaya does a great job with decision making on both ends of the court, and she is the type of player who can grab a rebound and go all the way to lead the break. Ty is a quick, explosive athlete who runs the court well and finishes well.
“Brittney is the player that brings it all together for us. She is a pure point guard who is very strong and very athletic. She always plays at 100 miles per hour, but she knows when to slow down and set things up. She is tough as nails, and she always guards the other team’s top perimeter player.”

Bret McCormick, the analyst for ASGR, also provided his perspective on the Panthers’ standouts:

Nicole Ekhomu: “I first saw her in the seventh grade, and even then you could see the athleticism. She explodes to the basket and finishes in traffic. She can get it done in a lot of ways.”

Ty Battle: “She is the daughter of former Illini great Kenny Battle. She is athletic and long, and she has a very good inside-outside game.”

Jnaya Walker: “Walker is another long, athletic player. She has a good skills set, so she can score inside and step out to the arc.”

Brittney Patrick: “Patrick is a very quick point guard with a high basketball IQ. She can run the team, but she can also attack the rim and score.”