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Thorp commits to Northern Illinois

Her mind made up, Hinckley-Big Rock junior guard/forward Jenna Thorp called Northern Illinois women's basketball coach Carol Owens with one question.

"I called and I asked if they had my No. 20 [jersey] ready in the locker room," Thorp said. "[Owens] said, 'Oh yeah we do.'"

Thorp, the Daily Chronicle's 2008-09 Girls Basketball Player of the Year, confirmed Monday that she has given a verbal commitment to Northern Illinois.

Thorp helped the Royals to the IHSA Class 1A state championship in February. She averaged 12.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game. She is also the second Division I basketball recruit in Hinckley-Big Rock history – Jim Edmondson lettered for the NIU men's basketball team from 1984-86 – and the first on the women's side.

"We've had some great players over the years and she's at the top of the list," H-BR coach Greg Burks said. "There are no two ways of saying that."

Thorp, who also had an offer from Southern Illinois and had Bowling Green and Northern Iowa on her radar, said a few factors helped her determine her decision.

"It's nice knowing that it's close to home for fan support," she said. "They have a good academic program and I want to do something with sports medicine. Everything was nice."

The H-BR junior also said that familiarity of going to NIU's camps when she was younger and a few drives up to DeKalb to watch the Huskies play helped her lean to NIU.

"I've watched a few of their games and I like their style of play," Thorp said.

Burks credited Thorp's future coach, NIU's Carol Owens, and assistant Heather Oesterle for showing their interest earlier than other schools. Thorp first was offered a scholarship by NIU last September.

"I didn't have to do any convincing on my part," Burks said. "NIU made it very clear up front that they wanted her and they went about the process the right way and I give credit to Carol Owens and Heather Osterle for that."

In her first year on Owens' staff, Osterle was Thorp's main recruiter.

"I talked with her probably the most and then coach Owens," Thorp said.

The Huskies finished 15-15 this past season and were upset by Buffalo in the opening round of the Mid-American Conference tournament.

Pat Cinotte, Thorp's club basketball coach with the Illinois Lady Lightning, has seen Thorp grow as a player over the past few years and was excited about Thorp's verbal commitment.

"I think it's a huge pickup for Northern Illinois to get a person like Jenna Thorp," Cinotte said. "She's definitely a quality player. She's been doing a phenomenal job with her strength. She's one of the hardest working people in the program."

Thorp's high school coach gave a similar assessment.

"It's the product of years of dedication and effort and desire," Burks said."I think NIU was a good fit."

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