CARLYLE — A visit to the University of Michigan last weekend was all it took to convince Carlyle's Paige Rakers that the Big Ten school was the right place for her.
Rakers has given a verbal commitment to play women's basketball for the Wolverines.
"It was my dream school," Rakers said. "Once I got there, it was definitely the right fit for the athletics, academics and the coaching staff felt like a family already. The players, too, I fit right in with them. I got to sit in on an individual work out. It's very intense, and that's the level I want to play at."
Rakers along with her parents, Angie and Scott Rakers, and her younger brother, Ryan, left late Thursday night after her volleyball match for the Indians. The Rakers family arrived about 9:30 a.m. Friday in Ann Arbor, Mich.
"My dad drove the whole way there," Rakers said. "He was a little tired."
In addition to meeting the women's basketball coaching staff and players, Rakers and her family also got to stand on the field at Michigan Stadium prior to the Wolverines' 63-13 football win over Massachusetts last Saturday.
"It was over 110,000 (fans in attendance) when we were there," Rakers said. "It was a good feeling."
Rakers said it was especially exciting for her brother, a freshman for the Indians.
"It was a cool experience for him," Rakers said. "He plays football, so he got a kick out of the football game. For both of us, it was our first college football game, and it was quite an experience."
Rakers was the Belleville News-Democrat's Class 1A-2A Player of the Year in girls basketball last season.
The 5-foot-10 guard led the metro-east in scoring with an average of 19.4 points per game as a junior.
She also had a team-leading 52 steals, 49 assists and shot 78.4 percent from the free-throw line for the Indians, who posted a 14-13 record and advanced to the title game of the Class 2A Carlyle Regional before falling to eventual state runner-up Central 58-52.
Rakers was crowned "Queen of the Hill" last winter for winning the Illinois High School Associations' statewide 3-point contest.
Rakers said Michigan recruited her as a shooting guard.
Rakers said she's glad to get the recruiting process out of the way prior to the start of basketball season.
"Now I can concentrate on preparing to get better to go there instead of worrying about what college I was going to play at," Rakers said. " It definitely takes all the stress off."
Rakers also is a standout in volleyball and softball who had a tough time deciding which sport she wanted to pursue in college.
"I will miss volleyball and softball without a doubt, but I think if I would have played one of them, I'd miss basketball more," Rakers said.
Rakers is undecided on her college major, though she's learning toward kinesiology or a math-related field. She'd like to someday coach basketball on the college level.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.