Illinois WBB Announces 2015 Recruiting Class; Bollant Says They May Add to it

CHAMPAIGN ( -- University of Illinois women's basketball head coach Matt Bollant announced the signing of three players to national letters of intent on Wednesday. Jaelyne Kirkpatrick (Oakville, Ontario, Canada), Cierra Rice (Grosse Pointe, Michigan) and Alex Wittinger (Delano, Minnesota) all will join the Fighting Illini squad for the 2015-16 campaign.

"All three of these young ladies are great athletes and have a toughness that you can't teach," Bollant said. "They're going to help us continue to grow this program and make it into something special. We're very excited about what this group will bring both on the court and in the locker room."

Jaelyne Kirkpatrick, 5'7" Guard - Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Ranked the No. 1 guard and No. 2 overall player in Canada in the Class of 2015 by CROWN Scout Girls ... Ranked a three-star recruit and the No. 31 point guard in the United States and Canada in the Class of 2015 by ESPN Hoopgurlz ... Played for Canada in the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championships and the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship ... Led all players in assists at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 tournament and helped Canada to a silver medal.

Coach Bollant says:
"Jaelyne is a smart point guard who's a great leader, can shoot and can get to the rim. The first time (assistant) Coach (Tianna) Kirkland saw her, Jaelyne reminded her a lot of Kyley Simmons. We are really excited to have her in this class."

Cierra Rice, 5'9" Guard - Grosse Pointe, MI
Four-star recruit is ranked the No. 66 overall player and the No. 21 guard in the Class of 2015 by ESPN Hoopgurlz ... Ranked the No. 1 player in Michigan in the Class of 2015 by Midwest Girls Basketball Recruiting Report ... Played for All Ohio Black AAU team, the same squad that former Illini All-American Karisma Penn played for ... Averaged 18.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.5 assists per game in 2013-14 ... Has led Grosse Pointe South to a 68-7 record in the past three seasons, including consecutive Class A runner-up finishes in 2012 and 2013 ... Two-time MLive Detroit Dream Team selection and two-time Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan All-State selection in 2013 and 2014.

Coach Bollant says:
"Cierra is a smart, tough player who penetrates well and gets to the rim. She was the best guard on All Ohio Black, which is one of the best AAU programs in the country. Plus, she's a great person who will really help grow our team chemistry and culture."

Alex Wittinger, 6'1" Forward - Delano, MN
Ranked the No. 16 wing in the Class of 2015 by ESPN Hoopgurlz ... Ranked the No. 5 overall prospect and the No. 3 post player in the Class of 2015 in Minnesota, according to gPrep Minnesota High School Girls Basketball ... Ranked the No. 185 overall player in the Class of 2015 by Blue Star Basketball ... Named honorable mention All-State by the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association in 2014 ... Averaged a double-double in 2013-14 ... Was a starting post player for North Tartan AAU, one of the top five teams in the country in 2014 ... Named to the 2014 Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association Class AAA All-State honorable mention team ... Named to the Star Tribune's 2013 Class AAA All-State Tournament team after helping Delano to a state runner-up finish ... Finished sixth in the 300 hurdles at the Minnesota Class AA track and field state championships in 2012 ... Qualified for the Minnesota Class AA track and field championships in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles in 2014 ... Also was recruited to play college volleyball.

Coach Bollant says:
"Alex is a big-time athlete who has a nose for the ball and can really defend. She's just starting to scratch the surface of what she can do basketball-wise and when she has a chance to focus solely on basketball, she's going to be really special. She's long and athletic and has great toughness."  

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