EAST CHICAGO | Shareese Billups was looking for a new start on a new team, so she went back to an old, familiar place.
After two years at Bowman Academy, Billups opted to return to E.C. Central and play girls basketball for the Cardinals.
The welcome was warm, well, as warm as can be expected from the teammates she played with in middle school.
"They kinda got on me about leaving, but they were glad when I came back," Billups said.
A junior, Billups didn't play much for the Eagles last season, so she's a year behind in basketball. She says that softball is her better sport.
Billups and the Cardinals will meet Logansport at 4:30 p.m. at the Hammond Civic Center on New Year's Day in the 14th annual Times Region Roundball Rumble.
"I still think she's a year behind," Kundich said. "I'm hoping we can get her up to speed by the second half of the season, and by sectional time, she can maybe give us seven, eight points a game and eight, 10 rebounds a game which is where she's been."
Where Billups doesn't lack is rebounding. She's second on the team with 8.25 rebounds a game, crashing the boards with her 5-foot-10 frame.
"I don't care who is going up for the rebound, I'm going up to get it," Billups said. "I follow the ball where it's going. Where it goes, I go."
"What we're trying to work on with Shareese is becoming more consistent at scoring the basketball, especially when she gets an offensive rebound," Kundich said. "She kind of twists and contorts her body in a way that I don't even know how she sees the basket. We're working on some low-post moves, some simple pivots and face the basket and then move."
The Cardinals have her for another season, which is exactly what they're hoping for. Her presence on the team adds a quality that Kundich said gives other players perspective.
"I think she understands her role, and we need all of our kids to understand their role just a little bit better," Kundich said. "I think she's just a little bit ahead of everyone in understanding her role on this team."