NORMAL — The Illinois State women's basketball team never settled on a point guard last season, rotating several players as its primary ballhandler to less than stellar results.
First-year Redbird coach Kristen Gillespie has landed a prep standout who will certainly be a candidate for that role in Paige Saylor.
A 5-foot-5 point guard from Martinsville, Ind., and Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, Saylor has signed a national letter of intent to join the Redbirds for the coming season.
"We're thrilled to add Paige as our final piece for the coming season. She will have a chance," Gillespie said of early playing time for Saylor. "She is a dynamic point guard who is a fearless competitor and the epitome of a floor general."
A four-year varsity player, Saylor averaged 13.3 points, 5.9 assists and 4.0 steals as a senior and was named to the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association "Supreme 15," a list of the top 15 seniors in the state.
"She's pass first, get everybody involved," said Gillespie. "She's a capable scorer and a great defender, too."
Saylor finished as Roncalli's career assist leader with 419 and totaled 314 steals. She also is the Indiana state champion in the long jump with a school-record leap of 19-1¼.
Originally signed by Division I Lafayette, Saylor was allowed to look elsewhere after Lafayette and head coach Theresa Grentz parted ways.
"Scott (assistant coach Scott Gillespie) knew her high school coach," Kristen Gillespie said. "We were the first school she contacted."
Saylor's addition brings the ISU recruiting class for the coming season to three. Ajai Simmons signed under the previous coaching staff, while junior college post player Simone Goods came aboard after Gillespie took over as coach.
"We needed a post and a point guard," said Gillespie, "We got the two best players available."
Two for next year: ISU also has received commitments from two rising senior prep standouts who have indicated they will sign with the Redbirds in November in 6-2 Lexy Koudelka of Nevada, Iowa, and 6-2 Anya Brooks of Plainfield South.