NORMAL — Normal Community High School standout basketball player Maya Wong is going to get an early start on her Illinois State career.
A unanimous Big 12 Conference all-star as a junior, Wong confirmed Friday she plans to graduate from NCHS early and enroll at ISU for the fall semester.
"I'm going to take online classes to finish my credits so I can graduate," Wong said. "When those are done in July, I will get my diploma."
That will open the door for Wong to sign a scholarship agreement with ISU. She will join the Redbirds as a scholarship player and sit out the 2019-20 season as a redshirt.
"I thought it was so great of the (ISU) coaching staff to give me the opportunity to reclassify and have an extra year there," said Wong. "It's really good for my future. I will have all that experience of watching them play."
The 5-foot-8 Wong earned Pantagraph All-Area and honorable mention all-state honors as a junior while averaging 13.5 points, 4.6 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals. She tied for second in the Pantagraph area with 58 3-pointers for an Iron team that won a regional championship and finished 23-10.
Wong said returning for her senior season at NCHS "wasn't something I could go back to if I wanted to play basketball. It wasn't a good place for me. I just felt like I wasn't being challenged as much as I needed to be in order to get better."
She called giving up her senior year of high school "really tough. But that's what's best for my future. So it was easy in that way."
Wong will be eligible to accompany the ISU women's team on an August trip to Italy and play in the exhibition games. She will have four years of eligibility with the Redbirds starting with the 2020-21 season.
ISU coach Kristen Gillespie is prohibited by NCAA rules from commenting on recruits until they sign a scholarship agreement.