Girls Basketball

East basketball player commands attention at Team USA 16U tryout

Belleville East soon-to-be-junior Kaylah Rainey didn’t make the Team USA 16U basketball team, but she did leave Colorado Springs with a tangible idea where she ranks among high school players across the country.

She survived three of the four rounds of cuts, finishing as a semifinalist at the Team USA invitation-only tryout. Rainey ranks No. 37 of the 135 players who were at the US Olympic Training Center last week.

Already rated by ESPN as the 37th-best player overall and the No. 10 point guard from the Class of 2019, Rainey’s recruitment stock likely will rise as a result of her performance in Colorado.

“I feel proud because it was my first year there, and I didn’t think I’d get that far,” said Rainey. “Right now I’m just waiting to see what offers come along, but I definitely feel like I’m in a better position now. If I got an offer that felt like the right fit, I would commit after my junior year, but if I’m still not sure I’ll hold out until I’m a senior.”

Over the weekend, Rainey picked up a scholarship offer from the University of Illinois, where she would join Southwestern Conference opponent and recent Granite City graduate Addaya Moore.

Iowa, Kansas, Saint Louis University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Miami University (Ohio) also have made offers to the 5-foot-6 guard, who earned first team All-Southwestern Conference and was selected to the Belleville News-Democrat All-Area first team.

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Belleville East junior Kayla Rainey is ranked No. 37 in the Class of 2019 by ESPN.

Rainey averaged just under 16 points and shot better than 50 percent from the floor this past season for the Lancers. She averaged nearly five steals, three rebounds and three assists and was an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association third team all-state selection.

“I think her stock is risen significantly,” said Lawrence Rainey, Kaylah’s father. “I expect (her rankings) to change quickly given her success last week.”

Rainey also plays for Midwest Elite, a Chicago-based basketball team that competes in the Nike Girls Elite Youth Basketball League. The league consists of 32 national league teams that compete in 10 summer-league games toward a Nike National Championship.

In addition to her club basketball, she said she plans to attend the Notre Dame camp with the rest of the Lancers and will individually compete at the Kansas and Iowa camps. Rainey has invitations to the Inside Exposure Junior All-American and Top 60 showcase camps over the summer as well.

Rainey said her long-term goal is to play in the WNBA, but she also has a potential interest in physical therapy or coaching.

“Right now, I just want to be a better player and a better leader,” she said. “I’d also like to just find a good school where I feel like I fit in and like the coaching staff.”