CHAMPAIGN — Saturday was just the beginning.
The Tori McCoy Watch is officially on. The St. Thomas More sophomore — ranked as the No. 1 high school girls’ basketball recruit nationally for the Class of 2016 by Blue Star Report — participated in a 90-minute open gym Saturday at STM. Among the spectators were UConn’s Geno Auriemma, who has coached eight women’s basketball teams to national championships, and UI coach Matt Bollant.
“For our area, this is the first time in girls’ basketball for seeing recruiting at the highest scale,” St. Thomas More coach Chris Mennig said.
Auriemma, who will coach the U.S. Olympic team in 2016, was joined by his assistant, Chris Dailey.
Mennig expects more Division I coaches to make their way to Champaign, either for volleyball practices or matches in the next week, or for next Saturday’s open gym in basketball. McCoy is in her first season playing volleyball for the Sabers.
“We’ll be a stop along the way,” Mennig said, “as more coaches come through trying to show support and let the family know they are thinking about them.”
Mennig said the McCoy family hasn’t started narrowing the list of possibilities.
“They’re not closing many doors,” he said. “We’re trying to get the initial contacts.”
McCoy averaged a double-double last season (15.1 points, 10.5 rebounds) as a freshman as STM (32-3) placed second at state in Class 1A.
Mennig’s only role Saturday, he said, was “to turn on the lights and push out the balls.”
According to Mennig, Tori McCoy understands she doesn’t need to impress the college coaches who come to observe her. They already have the interest or they wouldn’t be in attendance in the first place.
“She could go 0 for 50, and it wouldn’t really matter,” Mennig said. “Initially, she was a little nervous, but I talked to her about how this is the next step to becoming an elite athlete. This is part of her growth, and it doesn’t really matter who is there. It’s about her and her journey.”
Mennig said he’s not counting the number of scholarship offers made to the 6-foot-4 McCoy but acknowledged “it’s more than 10.”
McCoy is aware of Auriemma — who coached the U.S. women to a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics — and his reputation.
“Her goal is to play for the USA team someday,” Mennig said.
Illinois and Illinois State were the first two colleges to make scholarship offers, both doing so before McCoy finished her freshman year.