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Sports

Boys Basketball: St. Charles North's Connor Linke makes commitment to Bradley official

North Stars' senior Caroline Jakaitis also signs on Signing Day

St. Charles North seniors Connor Linke (right) and Caroline Jakaitis (left) pose at their National Letter of Intent signing ceremonies on Nov. 13.
St. Charles North seniors Connor Linke (right) and Caroline Jakaitis (left) pose at their National Letter of Intent signing ceremonies on Nov. 13.

ST. CHARLES – St. Charles North forward Connor Linke simply knew Bradley University was "the one."

"After going on the official [visit] to Bradley, it was kind of like: 'I think this is the place,'" Linke said.

Linke on Wednesday formally submitted a National Letter of Intent to Bradley, cementing his immediate future at the Peoria school next fall. Wednesday serves as the first day of the early signing period.

Linke, a 6-foot-9 senior, averaged 10 points and 10.3 rebounds last season, leading the North Stars to their first regional championship in a decade.

The DuKane Conference First Team selection wrapped up a competitive recruiting process that saw a host of offers from programs like North Dakota, UC-Davis, Army (West Point), Cal-Poly and more.

Linke announced his verbal commitment to reigning Missouri Valley Conference champion Bradley on Twitter on Oct. 29. Bradley came into focus mid-September for Linke, and offered him Sept. 25.

"It's a great conference," Linke said. "There's some really good teams in it. I'm looking to compete at the highest level I'm capable of."

"The Missouri Valley, it's kind of a defensive-oriented conference I would say," Linke continued. "And, I think I bring a lot to the table in terms of defense. They've got some great players there [At Bradley] already on offense. I think I can just bring in some more defense and maybe some touch around the rim."

The Braves won the MVC tournament for the first time in 31 years last season, and have posted consecutive 20-win seasons under head coach Brian Wardle.

"It made me kind of realize: 'Ok, the coaching staff and the players there, they're part of a winning culture,'" Linke said.

Bradley also snagged another 6-foot-9 forward in Darius Hannah from the Milwaukee Academy of Science. Per the release from Bradley, Hannah averages 16 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.

"I watched him actually play a couple times in person...he's athletic, just jump out of the gym [type]. Smart player and seems like a really good guy," Linke said of Hannah.

"We're excited to add Darius and Connor to our Bradley family," Wardle said in a release. "They are two young men who both have tremendous upside and who want to be developed. They fit right into our expectations and standards of the program – academically, socially and on the floor. They also complement each other on the court and it will be fun to see them play together in future years."

SCN's Jakaitis signs NLI for the University of Indianapolis

Caroline Jakaitis had that feeling.

"A coach that I had talked to in the past was like: 'No matter how great the school is, it's this feeling that you have when you're at the school,'" Jakaitis said. "Compared to other schools, I just had this feeling about Indy...I left that place being like 'I can see myself being there for the rest of my life.'"

The St. Charles North senior forward weighted three offers – Indianapolis, Illinois-Springfield and Wisconsin-Parkside.

Her sister, Claire, was a coach on Mike Tomczak's staff last season. Claire Jakaitis is now a redshirt sophomore forward at Wisconsin-Parkside.

"At the end of the day, it was better for me to go to Indy," Caroline Jakaitis said. "The coaches completely understood."

The high-tempo offense the Rangers run was a definite draw for Jakaitis.

"I love being selfless and getting other people open," Caroline Jakaitis said. "It was definitely like: 'Let's run, let's get steals; let's go, which I would love to do."

Lannert, Gorniak wrap up SCN volleyball careers

Senior volleyball players Kyla Lannert and Maddie Gorniak also ceremoniously signed their NLIs Wednesday. Both played integral roles for the North Stars on the way to a Class 4A regional championship this season.

Lannert formally committed to the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Gorniak heads to Winthrop University.

"I am definitely stoked to go out east next Fall," Lannert said earlier this month. "The school has a lot of what I’m looking for in the new coaching staff, academics and campus. We have a lot of good recruits coming in and I’m excited to compete in the ASUN conference and get to play against some great competition."

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