Eastern Illinois head coach Brady Sallee has been mining Hoosier talent for a long time, but he recently keyed in on Northwest Indiana for three members of his 2009 signing class. Michigan City guards Ta'Kenya Nixon and Bianca McGee, together with Chesterton forward Megan Palombizio have all given verbal commitments to Sallee to play for the Panthers program next season.
After a stellar junior season and a summer stint with the Junior All-Stars, Michigan City standout point guard Ta'Kenya Nixon (on the left) chose Eastern Illinois over options at Valparaiso, Kent State and Toledo.
The All-DAC honoree averaged 19.0 points, 4.7 assists and 3.7 steals per game while shooting 56.4 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from long range. As a junior, Nixon was an IBCA All-State underclass player and a member of the 2008 Indiana Junior All-Star team. She led Michigan City to a 20-5 record last season, garnering Player of the Year honors by the Gary Post-Tribune, the Michigan City News-Dispatch, and the LaPorte Herald-Argus. She is two-time All-Duneland Conference POY, and was named one of the Top 100 IBCA Showcase Players as a sophomore. Nixon also maintains a 3.8 GPA.
Bianca McGee (on the right) is a 5’9 guard and was an Honorable Mention IBCA All-State underclass player. She chose Eastern Illinois over options at Illinois, Southern Illinois, Illinois-Chicago and Loyola. As a junior, the multi-talented and athletic off-guard averaged 16.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game for the 20-6 Wolves. She, too, has been an All-DAC honoree the past two years, as well as AP All-State Honorable Mention. The two-sport athlete (track) maintains a 3.2 GPA at MCHS.
Both players ended last season in the top five in scoring in Northwest Indiana and will be looking to make it a memorable final season of high school basketball. Photo courtesy of Wendy Thoms of the LaPorte Herald-Argus.
Chesterton forward Morgan Palombizio (left) will join Nixon and McGee on the Panthers roster next season. She picked EIU over options at IUPUI, Toledo, Northern Illinois and North Carolina-Greensboro.
"When I went to visit the campus, I just loved it there," said Palombizio. "The girls were really nice, they have a great coaching staff, and I just felt like it was a good fit."
The 5'11 forward averaged 10.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game as a junior. A swing player with good size and guard skills, she is a threat both inside and outside, hitting the trey at at 39.0 percent clip. The two-sport athlete (volleyball) helped the Trojans to a 10-11 record last season under long-time head coach Jack Campbell, and landed on The Times All-Area Second Team, All-RSN Third Team and Post-Tribune Honorable Mention.
Palombizio didn't plan on playing basketball in high school, as volleyball was her sport of choice in middle school. But encouragement from Campbell to come out for basketball, despite her lack of playing experience, landed her on the JV team as a starter her freshman year.
"I love playing for Coach Campbell," says the All-DAC honoree. "He gave me a chance even though I never played in middle school. If it weren't for him, I would not have played basketball in high school."
A role player as a sophomore, Palombizio put together a breakout season during her junior campaign, including top performances against DAC powers Merrillville (17 points and 11 rebounds) and Michigan City (17 points, 9 rebounds).
At EIU, the special education major will be expected to contribute at both the three and four positions. But before that time, Palombizio, frontcourt teammate Abby Skube (Loyola) and the rest of their teammates have set their sights on a sectional championship.
"I've wanted to win sectionals ever since I was on varsity," said Palombizio, who has set a personal goal of averaging a double-double this season. "We only lost three seniors from last year's team, and we've all been together for a couple of years now. With two D-I players on our team, I think we have a good chance to win it."
When the All-NWI trio arrives on campus next season, they will join Hoosier Lauren Sturtevant (Cathedral) on the Panthers roster for 2009-10.
Photo courtesy of strempkagallery.com.