SHELBY, Neb. — Chatrice White and her father were shooting baskets at Shelby-Rising City High School late Wednesday afternoon when her coach arrived with information that could not wait.
Earlier, Travis Weber had hurried home following practice to watch the televised announcement of player selections for the McDonald’s All-American games. What he saw prompted the Huskies coach to rush back to the gym.
The news was pretty breathless, too, for the future University of Illinois basketball player.
“I was just floored,” White said after learning she was one of 24 girls named 2014 McDonald’s All-Americans. “I mean, small-town girl coming from a little town in Nebraska, I didn’t think that I really had a strong chance of making it.
“I thought it was so cool that I was even nominated to be on the list, let alone be on the team. I did not think that was going to happen, but I’m really excited.”
The 6-foot-3 senior center will play for the West team in the 13th annual McDonald’s All-American girls’ game on April 2 at Chicago’s United Center.
She is the second Illini women’s recruit to be selected a McDonald’s All-American. Forward Destiny Williams of Benton Harbor, Mich., received the honor in 2009. Williams played in one game at the UI before transferring to Baylor between semesters of her freshman year.
White also is the first girls’ player from her state to receive the McDonald’s honor.
“Nebraska’s not really known for its basketball,” she said. “We’re really starting to build that up
in our state, but I’m surprised
that no one ever (before) has come from Nebraska. It’s pretty shocking.”
When White returned home later Wednesday, she and her parents watched a recording of the ESPNU announcement of the girls’ and boys’ All-American selections.
“So cool,” she said. “It was really cool watching it and seeing my name on there and seeing Illinois is where I’m going. I thought that was pretty cool.”
White, who signed a national letter of intent with the UI in November, is ranked 27th overall and fourth among post players in the Class of 2014 by ESPN HoopGurlz.
The fourth-year varsity starter is averaging 24.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.4 blocks this season for a 16-1 Shelby-Rising City team.
“We really try to pound it inside because we’ve got some big posts, and I really like to rebound and bang around inside,” she said. “That’s where I live.”
White indicated that, as a senior, she’s tried to make an impact that extends beyond her play on the court.
“I think this year I’ve really stepped into that leadership role, and I’ve really tried to be the best teammate that I can toward the younger girls and build them up, and the rest of the team as well,” she said.