Fri, Aug. 8: Women''s basketball recruit picks Illini

Fri, Aug. 8: Women''s basketball recruit picks Illini

CHAMPAIGN – Her team won first place, and she found a college home.

Not a shabby four days for Dawn Vana at the University of Illinois women's basketball team camp.

The Des Plaines Maine West forward became the second upcoming senior to orally commit to defending Big Ten Conference champion Illinois, accepting Theresa Grentz's scholarship offer after a sideline chat at Huff Hall.

"We were talking during a pickup game. I got up to leave and I told her," Vana said. "I think she was shocked. We hugged. It was cool."

The 6-foot-2 Vana was a second-team News-Gazette All-State choice as a junior, leading the Warriors to a 28-3 record. The three-year starter has played point guard, off guard and small forward.

"An all-around player," Maine West coach Derril Kipp said. "To me, she's the best senior in Illinois."

Vana averaged around 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists as a junior. She at first planned to take her allotted five official college visits during her senior year, but then she decided to cut short the recruiting process.

"I thought to myself, 'I know where I want to go, and it's here,' " said Vana, whose Maine West team won Thursday's title game for the second consecutive year. "I want to win a national championship, and I'll help out any way they want me to."

Meanwhile, the UI remains an option for Rutgers transfers Susan Blauser and Kylie Martin.

Recuperating from off-season surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the 6-foot Blauser averaged 10.1 points and 6.6 rebounds in 1996-97 for the 11-17 Scarlet Knights. She was named to the Big East All-Rookie team after leading Rutgers in scoring and rebounding in 1995-96.

The 6-2 Martin averaged 3.2 points and 3.6 rebounds last season.

Neither player has enrolled at the UI, according to UI Registrar William Fierke.

Both players would have two years eligibility remaining after sitting out next season should they transfer to an NCAA Division I school.