Girls Basketball: Maine South’s Jacqui Grant commits to Illinois

Story Image Park Ridge, 01/11/12
Maine South's Jacqui Grant gets swarmed by Loyola defenders during their game at Maine South Jan. 11. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media

Updated: May 29, 2012 7:11PM

Jacqui Grant finally gets the chance to play with her Maine South teammates again.

After suffering a season-ending ankle injury in the regional final, the junior will join the Hawks healthy when summer league starts June 11.

The 6-3 Grant also will play without the weight of her future on her mind. She gave a verbal commitment to Illinois and new coach Matt Bollant on May 17.

Grant chose the Illini over DePaul. She also had offers from Marquette and South Florida.

“I went back and forth between Illinois and DePaul,” Grant said. “But I really liked Illinois’ coaching staff and the style of play. I can’t wait to be part of his first recruiting class. It’s cool how I will be a cornerstone of the his program.”

Although she primarily plays post in high school, Grant most likely will be a wing player in college. She already has developed many of the skills necessary to play that position.

“Illinois said it was looking for people who were versatile,” she said. “I think I fit that criteria.”

Maine South coach Mark Smith has watched Grant grow from a one-dimensional post player to someone who can score from all over the court.

There’s one area where Grant needs work, but it’s only because she’s never been asked to do it.

“We haven’t exposed her to much defending on the wing or containing the ball,” he said. “At 6-3, we keep her in the paint because that’s what a high school team needs to do.

“We will continue to bring her out farther and farther on offense and defense.”

Grant is one of three veterans returning to the Hawks. Regan Carmichael and Mackenzie Duffy also both have considerable court experience.

“We are really excited,” Grant said of next season. “We are going to have a great summer and a great senior season, just like old times. It’s going to be fun.”

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