Okay, Brady Sallee. I guess you've thrown down the gauntlet to all of Indiana's mid-major programs. With the recruitment of Kelsey Wyss of Luers, Megan Palombzio of Chesterton and Bianca McGee and Ta'Kenya Nixon from Michigan City, Sallee has picked up some of Indiana's prime talent in the Class of 2009 for Eastern Illinois. Wyss becomes the latest in what will be a Hoosier-flavored arsenal at EIU for years to come.
I guess you could say that Sallee knows talent. After taking the helm of EIU's 9-18 cellar-dweller program four years ago, the Panthers have been selected as the Ohio Valley Conference pre-season favorite after a 19-13 outing and a championship finals appearance in the OVC tournament last season. Wyss will help continue a new winning tradition at EIU, one that she is used to at Luers.
As a junior, Wyss helped the Knights to a 16-8 record on the way to an appearance in the 3A Northeastern Regional Finals under head coach Greg Friend. The 5'10 multi-talented guard averaged 12.4 points, 3.8 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game. She has been recognized by the Summit Athletic Conference three years running, garnering First Team honors last season. She burst onto the statewide girls basketball scene as a freshman, capturing MVP honors at the 3A state finals. After averaging just under 8 points per game during the season, the frosh came up big for her teammates with 21 points in 26 minutes to go with 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal to capture the 3A title. A proficient softball player, Wyss also has received All-SAC First Team honors three years running on the diamond.
After mulling over other offers from Winthrop, Eastern Kentucky and IUPUI, Wyss decided EIU was the place she wanted to continue her playing career.
"They have a great coaching staff that I believe will push me to be the best," she says. "It is only four hours away so my family can still see me play. I feel that after having hung out with the team, they are a fun group of girls that I will get along great with. I feel that they have a successful program that I can't wait to be a part of."
Although undecided about a college major, Wyss is leaning toward sports management and marketing. She liked the academic setup at EIU, where they have "professors that teach all classes."
Before heading off to Charleston, Illinois, however, Wyss has some goals for her final prep season.
"I'm excited and very positive about the upcoming season. We have a lot of young talent that will catch other teams off guard. My goals for this season are to be a positive role model to my teammates, to hit the 1000-point mark for my career, to make all conference -- and even all-state -- and to win a state championship."
That goal may not be as far out of reach as some may think. The Knights lost the services of Amanda Pedro (17 ppg, now at Indiana State) to graduation, but Friend thinks that the scrappy Knights might surprise a few teams who are discounting them this season.
"This season looks to be quite an interesting one. We lost a good scorer in Amanda, but we will be able to make that up with great scorers like Kelsey -- I set a goal for her to average 20 points a game this year -- Mary Hathaway and other members of the team. We have three returning starters and a nice freshman class with three or possibly four who have a chance to play some varsity this year. We will be young, but with a lot more speed and quickness."
However, in Friend's opinion, team play will be the emphasis for the Knights this season and Wyss is expected to be a main ingredient to a team-first attitude.
"She is showing great leadership, especially with the younger girls, which is a big positive for us," says Friend. "I know because of our senior leadership this year, we will play more like a TEAM than we did the previous year. I think we will be a surprise to a lot of teams on how well we will play as a team."
Luers opens against Angola on the road on November 11.