While on the men’s side, Illinois basketball was getting snubbed, the women’s side fared much better with the McDonald’s All-American roster.
It was disappointing that Morez Johnson Jr. was left off the men’s roster. He is a top-30 recruit in the country, and the Illini signee should have made the team. While that was sad to see, it was also great to see the women’s Illinois basketball team getting a player in the prestigious high school exhibition game.
On Tuesday, the McDonald’s All-American Game rosters were also released for the women’s side. Making the team was current Illinois signee Berry Wallace.
This doesn’t come as a surprise because Wallace is one of the best players in the class of 2024. She is currently a five-star recruit who is ranked as the No. 20 player in the country. The 6-foot-1 wing is going to do some great work for the Illini, but she first has to make a stop and showcase her talents on the biggest high school stage.
The women’s Illinois basketball team is seeing a talent shift with the addition of Berry Wallace
Wallace making the McDonald’s All-American Game roster is a pretty big deal. I can’t think of the last time an Illinois recruit made this game on the women’s side, if ever. I know that Illinois landing a five-star is a pretty big deal too.
After Shauna Green came onto the scene last season and put together an NCAA tournament run in year one, the expectations have continued to rise for the women’s Illinois basketball team. Not only have the expectations risen but so has the recruiting profile of the program.
Green is building the Illinois basketball team with quality talent. Most of the talent she won with in 2022-23 was either on the team or came in via the transfer portal. Now, this season and moving forward, the talent is going to be a mix of transfers and recruits Green has signed.
I actually loved the class of 2023. I think Gretchen Dolan is going to be a big-time scorer for the Illini once she gets a chance. She has to sit behind some experienced talent right now in Makira Cook and Genesis Bryant, but both of those guards will depart after the season. You can see flashes of greatness from Dolan, and I think she will be able to put up impressive scoring numbers next year.
Cori Allen also joined Dolan in the class of 2023. We didn’t see a lot of her this season, but she has great size and should be able to be a big-time contributor moving forward.
And then you get to the class of 2024. Illinois was able to sign Wallace, who will start from day one. The five-star talent is going to be dominant for the Illini. This is the type of talent we haven’t seen in Champaign.
But let’s not gloss over the fact Illinois is also bringing in Hayven Smith. She is a 6-foot-6 paint player who will help stabilize the position with Kendall Bostic departing the program after this season. Smith should see early playing time.
Wallace’s accomplishment of making the McDonald’s All-American Game is huge. It not only shows you that the hard work is paying off, but it also shows you the talent Illinois is stacking in Champaign. The future is so bright.