Sycamore girls hoops prepares for season with DeKalb transfer Madelyne Johnson

SYCAMORE – For the Sycamore girls basketball team, summer basketball means getting plenty of reps, getting stronger, finding out strengths and figuring out weaknesses.

For senior-to-be Madelyne Johnson, summer workouts also involve getting to know new teammates and learning an offensive system.

Johnson spent the first three years of her high school career at DeKalb, and was a Daily Chronicle All-Area first-team selection last year after averaging 12.4 points a game, but is transferring to Sycamore.

Johnson's mother lives in Sycamore, and Johnson said she decided to transfer for academic and athletic reasons. She said so far she's not regretting her choice at all.

"It's always been an option for me to go to Sycamore. My parents deeply talked about it going into freshman year," she said. "But I was like, 'Oh, I want to stay with my friends,' and all that stuff. But it finally got to the [point] where, I have the option, I'm going to do it."

Spartans coach Brett Goff said the school and Johnson's family did meet all the requirements to have Johnson's eligibility cleared by the IHSA.

She'll be a big presence on a team that won a regional title last year and returns Daily Chronicle Player of the Year Bailey Gilbert, as well as all-area selections Taiya Hopkins and Lauren Goff.

"[Johnson is] such a versatile player. She can play anywhere on the floor, basically. She can defend a lot of positions," Goff said. "I didn't know her at all until she got here. Very coachable player, very passionate about the game of basketball. She makes the other people around her much better, so she's really helped out a lot."

With Johnson giving the Spartans some size, it should open up more space for the sweet-shooting Gilbert, who said everyone on the team welcomed Johnson with open arms.

"She brings height and just opens up the paint on the outside perimeter," Gilbert said. "It's going to help both of us dramatically."

Opponents still have a few months before they have to worry about how they're going to guard the Spartans, and Goff still has plenty of time to figure how Johnson will fit into the offense.

In terms of the summer, Goff said the Spartans have had good participation for their early morning workouts and games. In terms of competition, Goff said Sycamore will play about 40 games by the end of June. The total includes split-squad games, which have been possible because of high numbers.

"The dedication everyone has, it's not just one or two people wanting to be here. Everyone wants to be here, everyone wants to get better," Johnson said. "Everyone shows up for weightlifting and practice and games. It's just awesome how everyone wants to be here and get better."