Illinois women’s basketball coach Matt Bollant has established a pipeline to Nebraska this offseason.
The pipeline continued Tuesday night.
Chatrice White became the second player from Nebraska to commit to Illinois for the Class of 2014 when the 6-foot-3-inch center from Shelby-Rising High School picked the Illini over home-state Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Purdue.
White plays on the same AAU team (the Cornhusker Shooting Stars based out of Lincoln, Neb.) as Class of 2014 guard Brooke Kissinger, who committed to Illinois two weeks ago. Missouri transfer Kyley Simmons, who will be eligible for the 2014-15 season when White and Kissinger arrive on campus, also played for the Shooting Stars when the Council Bluffs, Iowa, native was in high school.
“It’s great,” White said. “I’ve played with Brooke since I was in sixth grade. She’s a very good teammate and one of my best friends. Kylie is a couple years older than me, but I’ve grown up under her and watched her play. I’m really excited to join them.”
Bollant and his staff have similar feelings about White joining Illinois.
Blue Star Basketball, one of the premier recruiting services for high school girls basketball, ranks White as the 50th-best prospect in the Class of 2014.
Spurning Nebraska was a tough choice for the lifelong resident of the state. Shelby is roughly 70 minutes northwest of Lincoln.
White credited the success Illinois had in its first season under Bollant, along with the relationships she has built with Bollant and assistant coach Mike Divilbiss for steering her to Illinois.
She said she received a few phone calls from Illinois when former head coach Jolette Law was around, but the interest picked up dramatically once Bollant was hired.
“Coach Bollant and Coach Divilbiss are doing great things at Illinois,” White said. “His coaching style and their buzz defense intrigues me. They really like to get the ball inside. Being a post player, I like to get the ball down low and finish.”
The numbers back it up. The three-year starter for Shelby-Rising averaged 23 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots last season for a 21-3 squad.
Coming to Illinois and its enrollment of more than 40,000 might be a culture shock for White, who said Shelby-Rising has roughly 120 students in the school.
But she has proven with her play at the high school level and on the AAU circuit that she is a valuable commodity, even coming from a small school.
And she’s glad she won’t have to worry about any more recruiting matters the rest of this spring and summer during her AAU season.
“It is so nice,” she said. “I’m so excited, and I chose to do it in the spring before my final AAU summer so I can relax, breathe a little bit and just enjoy playing basketball with my AAU team one more time.”