Sunday, July 5, 2015

Academics lure Ridgeway's Beasley to Illinois

From Commercial Appeal

Ridgeway basketball standout Brandi Beasley committed to the University of Illinois for all the usual reasons. She liked the coaching staff and she felt like part of the family when she took her official visit.

But the Illini can offer Beasley something that no other school can and that’s the main reason the senior will be playing basketball in Champaign starting in 2016.

“The thing that actually sold me is they have the top civil engineering program in the world,” she said. “I work out with (local AAU coach) Javonte Holmes and his father is a civil engineer and that’s what got me interested.”

On the court, Beasley has done a solid job engineering the Roadrunners’ up-tempo offense for the last three seasons. She was one of three AAA Miss Basketball finalists this past year after averaging 16 points, five rebounds and six assists for a team that won its first 26 games and was nationally ranked before losing to Arlington in the AAA sectionals.

She said her skills should translate well to college.

“I love the style they run,” she said. “They’re a fast-break team and a lot of their offense runs through the guards. They have high expectations for me to come in and play right away.”

Another area player who shouldn’t have to adjust her game to fit in is Central’s Miyah Barnes, who recently committed to UAB. Barnes stands just 5-3 but has the requisite long-range shooting stroke and skills the Blazers need.

“Not just shooting but coming in as a point guard,” she said. “They’re looking for me to be a leader and be part of a new beginning.”

Barnes, a three-time all-metro player, chose UAB after her recent official visit. She chose the Blazers after considering Louisiana Tech, Houston and Southeast Missouri.

“On my unofficial visit, it was just (things like) watching practice,” she said. “But then when I had my official visit, they made me feel like I was already on the team. We had a barbecue. ... I felt like I was part of the family.”

Barnes is the second area player to commit the Blazers this summer, joining 5-10 DeSoto Central post player Imani Johnson.

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