Crown Point sophomore center Lilly Stoddard anchored one of Indiana's best defenses during a sterling freshman season. Now, she's reaping the rewards.
Purdue and Illinois are among the schools to offer the 6-foot-3 Stoddard this summer. Her improved strength has helped her this summer, including at Purdue's camp.
Stoddard averaged just 5.4 points per game, but her 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots put her in impressive company. She took a larger role in the postseason when her older sister, Abby, got shut down with a blood clot.
“She has just really improved in all facets of the game,” Crown Point coach Chris Seibert said. “(The postseason) gave her the confidence that she could be a difference-maker on both ends of the floor.”
Lilly Stoddard knocked down three 3-pointers as a freshman and is polishing her touch on offense. She's a capable passer and runs the floor better than many smaller centers.
Seibert said Lilly Stoddard can touch the rim, and that shows when opponents attack the hoop. Throughout the postseason, she made it nearly impossible for opponents to create clean looks in the paint.
At least half of the Big Ten has interest. Lilly Stoddard said she was shocked when Iowa offered during her eighth-grade year, and she visited Northwestern earlier in July. She has drawn attention from Michigan, Maryland and Nebraska, too.
"I've been working really hard on facing up and expanding my game," Lilly Stoddard said. "I'm really grateful for everyone around me."
Ulis on the rise: Entering last season, Marian Catholic's Ahron Ulis held multiple mid-major Division I offers and another from DePaul. He looked like one of Chicagoland's best point guards.
After a big summer, Ulis may be even more than that.
The rising senior point guard announced Wednesday that he received an offer from Iowa. He'll have a chance to follow his brother, former Kentucky star Tyler Ulis, to a Power 5 conference.
“From my standpoint, he has been overlooked for what he has accomplished,” Marian Catholic coach Mike Taylor said.
Ahron Ulis averaged 18.3 points per game and 4.4 assists for the Spartans, who went 27-5 last season. This summer, he has chipped in 12.2 points and a team-leading 5.2 assists per game for Chicago's MeanStreets AAU team at the Nike EYBL.
The 6-foot-2 lead guard holds a four-inch advantage over his older brother, and he rates as a three-star prospect – No. 240 overall – by 247Sports' composite rankings.
Taylor described Ahron Ulis as a prototypical point guard who sees the floor and defends.
“Tyler taught him how to work,” Taylor said. “The difference now is he has just gotten stronger and his confidence has grown so much.”
MAC schools eye Johnson: Morton junior receiver JoJo Johnson entered 2018 ready to help lead an explosive Governors offense. That all changed in the season opener last August 17 against Highland.
Johnson fractured an ankle and sat out until Morton's win over E.C. Central on October 5. He hoped to receive Division I offers as a sophomore and said he felt down for a couple of days after the injury as he realized how long he would be sidelined.
When Johnson came back, he didn't have anywhere near the explosiveness he does at full strength. For the season, he caught just five balls for 78 yards over five games. More than half of that production came on a 40-yard touchdown against Gavit on October 19.
“It motivated me because I know what I can do,” Johnson said. “I have to prove I'm one of the best in the Class of 2021.”
Since then, Johnson has put together a productive offseason. After impressive camp performances, Ball State, Western Michigan and Bowling Green have offered.
Governors coach Sean Kinsey said Notre Dame also invited Johnson to attend a game this fall. Johnson will play offense and defense for Morton. His father, Henry, is the Governors' defensive coordinator, and Kinsey hopes to utilize Johnson's speed as much as possible – he has hit 4.45 in the 40-yard dash.
JoJo Johnson has matured over the past year, according to Kinsey, and the coaching staff doesn't have to push him to be detail-oriented. Kinsey said the speedster's footwork sets him apart from other talented prospects his age.
“He is a true wide receiver,” Kinsey said. “We're expecting a huge season for him.”