Rock Valley College adds plenty of local talent to women’s basketball team

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 8:06 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Recruiting during a pandemic can present many obvious challenges; throw in the limitations placed throughout the state on hosting athletic events, and it limits even further the pool to pick from. But Rock Valley College head coach Darryl Watkins has found plenty of talent from the Stateline.

Watkins has almost a brand new roster for the upcoming season, adding 11 women to the team with his Golden Eagle Vi2i0n recruiting class. That group includes seven players from the area: Madison Hoel and Mariah Hill from Auburn, Briyanna Jackson and Brielle Shaw from Harlem, Karissia Martin from Guilford, East grad Kaiya Albert, and Kaycia Zimmerman from Winnebago. Watkins said he wanted to make sure if local talent wasn’t going to a four-year school, they were coming to RVC.

“I didn’t want them to get out of the city,” explained Watkins. “We missed out on a couple that are going the junior college route.”

“We put a fence up. If you were one of those better local kids, you weren’t leaving the city. That’s how we approached it. We showed them the blueprint of things and the opportunity they have to put on for their city and get the community behind them. Not where they’re competing against each other, but now they’re wearing that same uniform and fighting for one common goal. It’s a bigger purpose.”

Watkins said he is still out on the recruiting trail, looking to add one or two more pieces to this year’s squad. Only NJCAA 1st Team All-American Hannah Malcomson and Rayelynn Gray are back from last year’s team that was one game away from returning to the national championship.

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