Illinois women’s basketball signs three recruits


Brenton Tse/The Daily Illini

Illinois head coach Matt Bollant applauds his team’s performance during the FIghting Illini’s 89 to 37 win against Mariam at Assembly Hall, on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012.

By James Boyd, Staff writer

Six freshmen joined the Illinois women’s basketball team this season, and that trend will continue into next year.

Guards Channise Lewis and Addaya Moore, and forward Jnaya Walker all committed to Illinois this week, adding to a roster that could feature eight underclassmen next season.

Head coach Matt Bollant praised associate head coach Lakale Malone, and assistant coaches Tianna Kirkland and Jody Martinez, for helping to build relationships with the signees.

“We’ve been recruiting since eighth grade,” Bollant said. “Being at a school like Illinois it takes time to build relationships and (we) started recruiting these kids when they were really young. (I’m) just thankful to our staff for these three signees.”

Point guard Channise Lewis is Illinois’ shortest signee, standing at 5-foot-8, but she is also the highest ranked. According to ESPN, she is the No. 16 guard and No. 77 overall player in the country.

At Miami Country Day School, Lewis has led her team to three-consecutive Florida Class 3A State titles and will try to pull off a four-peat in her final season. She also led her high school to the 2015 Dick’s Girls High School Basketball National Championship.

“Coach Kirkland and I made up to 12 trips down to Miami to recruit this kid since ninth grade through 12th grade.” Bollant said. “There’s probably not a high school player, or very few players, that have won more than she has. She’ll come in with a great deal of confidence because she’s played at such a high level.”

Bollant said that he wanted to add more athleticism and height to his squad, and the Illini’s other recruits, guard Addaya Moore and forward Jnaya Walker, stand at six-foot and at 6-foot-1 respectively. Both players have a chance to be named Ms. Basketball of Illinois.

Moore averaged 19 points and nearly seven rebounds per game at Granite City High School, and she chose Illinois over Clemson and Marquette.

“What a driven, tough kid,” Bollant. “I think every time I talk to Addaya she’s going to the gym or just getting done. I went down to watch her practice last week and she was getting done with practice. Then I call her later that night and she’s up with her brother working out, and she’s about to go lift.”

Bollant said that was Moore’s third workout out of the day and that she is always working on her game. He also said that the athletic guard can even grab rim.

Walker is the tallest recruit of the 2017 class, and she chose Illinois over Wisconsin and Nebraska. Bollant said that Walker has been highly recruited since her freshman year at Joliet Catholic and remembers a big performance she had in the state tournament as a ninth grader.

Illinois’ recruiting season isn’t over yet. Bollant expects a few more recruits to make their decision in the coming months, but he said that for now he is pleased with the players headed to Champaign.

“I’m very excited about these three,” Bollant said. “They’re talented, they’re tough. They’ve been really good since their eighth, ninth grade (seasons) and again we’ve been recruiting these kids for a long, long time. To see it come to an end, and now see it happen and them sign with Illinois, is very exciting.”

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