Rebecca Harris said she thinks the Fighting Illini can have a better season beginning in the fall, and she’s going to do what she can to make that happen.
Harris, the standout point guard for the Rend Lake College Lady Warriors basketball team, signed a letter of intent to play for the Illini at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the university announced Thursday. The Belleville native and self-described “military brat” will play under Head Coach Theresa Grentz this fall.
“We are delighted with the signing of Rebecca Harris,” said Grentz. “Becca has a dynamic personality, lightning quick feet, and the ability to score from anywhere on the floor. Her addition should help make the Illini a force to reckon with next season. Becca did a great job in junior college this year and received All-America honors for her efforts.”
Harris is UIUC’s first Juco signee since Yolanda Smith in 2000, according to the university’s Web site.
“Bec is a tremendous talent. Because of her desire to compete at a high level, I don’t have any doubt in my mind that she will be a contributor for U of I. She is a special player,” said RLC Head Coach Glenn Box.
The 5-foot-8-inch Mascoutah High School product said the full force of the signing hasn’t hit her yet.
Harris captained her high school team in her junior and senior years. She led the team to a 28-6 record with IHSA Class AA Regional and Sectional titles in her senior year.
At Rend Lake College, Harris was coached her freshman year by Gerald Mumbower, then in her sophomore year by Box.
“My game has definitely improved this year,” Harris said. “Coach Box really defined some things that needed to be fine-tuned.”
Apparently, the fine-tuning worked. Harris ranked third in the nation in scoring, averaging 23.6 points per game, and ninth in the country in assists with an average of 5.6. She also averaged 5.6 rebounds and two steals per game. Harris compiled an impressive set of shooting statistics, going .495 from the field, .390 from three-point range and .750 from the free throw line.
Harris was an honorable mention NJCAA All-American in 2005-2006 and led the team to a 19-12 record. In her freshman year, the Lady Warriors were 19-13 and Harris was named the team’s Most Valuable Player.
“This is just another step. I’m getting better at playing this kind of ball,” said Harris of her signing with the Illini. She said as she watched the Illini play last year, she believed the team was much better than their record suggested. She said she believes things will improve for the team this fall.
Harris is studying communications and would love to stay around basketball in some capacity after completing college, perhaps becoming a coach or a broadcaster. However, she’s not going to give up any WNBA aspirations.
And don’t expect Harris’ biggest fans – her family – to make any less effort to get to her ball games next season. Her father still signs his e-mails as “Bec’s #1 Fan.”
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