First day of practice: Young reloads with inexperienced yet talented roster

Chicago
By Chicago 5 Min Read

Young junior Destiny Jackson had an eventful offseason.

Jackson was invited to Warriors star Stephen Curry’s ‘‘Curry Camp,’’ where 26 boys and girls go to California to get training from Curry, trainers and coaches. She also attended the Wootten Basketball Camp with other top players in the country.

This season, she’ll be one of the leaders for a Dolphins team without a senior. In addition to her game, she was working on her leadership skills. Young once again will field a talented team, and there was no concern about youth standing in the way on the first day of practice around the state Monday.

‘‘It’s going to be a big thing for us because people think that you need a senior to run the team,’’ sophomore forward Chellise Jones said. ‘‘But I feel like any age group could be a leader and run the team.’’

Coach Krissy Harper said she has noticed Jackson is more vocal.

‘‘Her leadership verbal ability has just skyrocketed,’’ Harper said. ‘‘Something that she kind of struggled with as a freshman was being more vocal. She was the one who always kind of tried to lead by example. But now that she’s getting older, she’s understanding, ‘I not only have to lead by example, but I also have to be vocal to my teammates.’ Being the point guard, you’re the floor general. So they need to not only see you, but they need to hear you.’’

The 5-6 Jackson is a high-scoring, guard who likes to play fast. She was on the last two city championship teams and has Division I scholarship offers from schools such as Illinois, Iowa, Ohio State and Arizona State. She understands her importance to the Dolphins this season.

‘‘I’m trying to be consistent with everything I do,’’ Jackson said. ‘‘Last year, I didn’t take the best shots. This year, my team is really counting on me to be more like a leader, to take better shots [and] hit my shots.’’

Young beat Kenwood in the Public League championship game last season but fell to the same Broncos team in the IHSA playoffs. The Dolphins lost three starters from that team.

‘‘Because of the experience that the returners did have, being able to play with the seniors for the past two years, it’s not a culture shock for them,’’ Harper said. ‘‘They’re really anxious about stepping into those shoes and filling them to the best that they can, and I’m really confident in them.’’

Young will be able to play big with Jones and junior forward Amaya Henderson, who recently received a scholarship offer from Evansville. Harper said she is excited to see the two work together on high-low actions.

‘‘We can really control the paint,’’ Harper said. ‘‘Size is something that a lot of teams in the city, as well as the state, don’t have.’’

Junior guard KJ Johnson provides scoring punch and can handle the ball. The Dolphins say all they are worried about is making progress, but Jackson said she doesn’t want to feel the pain of losing in the state playoffs again.

‘‘I don’t want to feel that same feeling,’’ Jackson said. ‘‘I felt it two years in a row. This year, hopefully something will be different.

‘‘I’m definitely excited to plan with my team. It’s a new group with a bunch of young players. I really took on that older, mature role. We’re going to be a fun and young team.’’

The fact that she’s one of the older players on the team this season is surreal to Jackson.

‘‘It’s crazy because my first two years, it was like, ‘Oh, you’re the baby,’ ’’ she said. ‘‘In the snap of a finger, it’s different now. So, you know, it’s definitely an adjustment, but I’m ready for it.’’

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