Girls Basketball: AAU season a whirlwind for Fenwick’s Jade Owens

Fenwick always enters a team every year in the Maine West Observation tournament, but this year Jade Owens said she wasn’t sure about making the commitment to play this past weekend for the Friars.

Since it is the last week of the AAU season, there are at least two more AAU tournaments for Owens to squeeze in until all basketball activities cease until preseason practice begins in November. Owens is playing for the first time this summer with Midwest Elite’s Platinum, the club’s top team. Owens, a 5-foot-7 junior guard for Fenwick, is playing with mainly seniors on the AAU circuit this month. One of Owens’ Platinum teammates is Maine South center Jacqui Grant, who recently made a verbal commitment to play for Illinois.

Owens, a River Forest resident, is joined by one other hometown girl, but Oak Park-River Forest sophomore Hailey Hoye of River Forest is playing for Midwest Elite Blue. Both girls left Sunday for a tournament starting Monday in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Junior Nationals/Nike National Championship. Their AAU commitment for the summer ends this weekend as all of Midwest Elite’s teams compete in the USJN’s Summer Final July 29-31 at Waukegan Fieldhouse.

The past weekend was a recruiting dead period for college coaches, who take a short break for the weekend since AAU tournaments have been continuously held the rest of the month.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” Owens said during a brief return home before flying to Washington, D.C. “When with the break [this week], I still had a full day today. I was up at 5:30 in the morning lifting and then I went to a workout for basketball.”

Owens played for Lombard-based Chicago Hoops Express last summer, but was looking for a more intense club this summer. The summer entering your junior year is considered the most important one for Division I basketball recruits hoping to play in college, or even make an early commitment.

“I was looking for better tournaments and better competition,” Owens said.

Owens’ AAU season opened with the Gold Summer Showcase starting July 9 in Orlando, Fla. She returned home to play in the Nike Showcase and then competed in the one-day Midwest Elite Summer Showcase July 12 at Joy of the Game in Deerfield. In the spring, Owens traveled to a tournament in Kentucky with Midwest Elite.

“It’s been a lot of fun playing with some really good girls,” Owens said. “The girls have been a lot of fun. They have been great.”

With Meredith Boardman off to Yale as a freshman this fall, Owens becomes Fenwick’s top player with a returning group that includes Maggie Reilly, Maya Garland, Hannah Puckorius and even Meredith’s younger sister, Kendall. Meredith Boardman was Fenwick’s top scorer and rebounder last season and was named to the Chicago Sun-Times All-Area team.

“I’m really working a lot on my shooting,” Owens said. “[On conditioning,] last year I was not always able to get back all the time. I’ve also been working on my pull-up jump shot.”

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