Illini women sign five recruits

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini women’s basketball program got a boost for the future when coach Theresa Grentz announced the players from her recruiting class of 2005 on Wednesday.

The signees are Lori Bjork, Chelsea Gordon, Danielle Gratton, Erin McCarthy and Lacey Simpson. According to Blue Star Index, three of these recruits are ranked in the top 100 and as a whole, the recruiting class is ranked in the top 20 nationally.

Simpson, the only player from Illinois in this class, is a wing from Zion, Ill. An 85th-ranked senior, she averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds last year and has already become the all-time leading scorer in her high school’s history.

McCarthy is a 6-5 center from Tulsa, Okla. In three years, this 47th ranked senior has twice been a first team All-State Player in Missouri and a Street and Smith’s preseason All-American. This past season, she averaged 11.9 points and 5.2 blocks per game.

“I think (the team) will welcome Erin with open arms,” Grentz said.

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Bjork is a 5-foot-11 point guard/shooting guard out of Johnstone, Iowa. In her high school career, she has averaged 12.2 points per game and has shot 38 percent from the three-point line.

“Lori shoots the ball delightfully well,” Grentz said.

Gordon is a 6-foot wing from Erie, Pa. She has averaged 13.6 points per game in her career and managed to win a state championship with her team last year.

Gratton is a 6-foot shooting guard from Bethel Park, Pa. In her junior year, the 76th ranked player led her team in points (13.3), assists (3.3), steals (2.7) and blocks (0.9). She also shot 50.2 percent from the field.

Grentz refused to take all of the credit for this class of players – she said her staff deserved credit too.

She and her staff have already set their sights on the next two recruiting classes.

“This staff has set a precedent, and they already are into the (2006) and (2007) classes,” she said. “If things come to fruition, there will hopefully be some announcements this coming year.”