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The road to a Division I basketball scholarship is a difficult one for any player, but few have overcome as much to get there as Geneva's Sidney Santos.
Santos recently committed to Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., a Division 1 program that plays in the Horizon League. A senior for the Vikings, Santos suffered ACL injuries that cost her both her freshman and sophomore years of high school basketball.
Those injuries also denied her a chance to play on the same team with her sister Ashley, now at Marquette, who is in the process of coming back from her own knee injury.
"I couldn't be more proud of her and she tells me she couldn't be more proud of me," Sidney Santos said. "We just think back to the days in the schoolyard where you dream of this opportunity. My parents (Joe and Lori) have helped us through it despite our injuries or anything else we've had to face. It's such a huge accomplishment for both of us and my brothers too hopefully."
Santos visited Oakland Aug. 21-22. She came home, talked the visit over with her family and committed Aug. 24.
"When I went to visit everything just fell in place," Santos said. "The campus was beautiful, the people were so friendly, and when I was on the tour everything they had to offer academically fit perfectly which is the most important thing. The coaching staff was wonderful and their plan for Oakland's future, I just really wanted to be a part of it."
After missing her first two seasons at Geneva, Santos finally got on the court last year and quickly dealt with more adversity when point guard Michaela Loebel suffered a season-ending knee injury in the team's fourth game.
That forced Santos from her post spot to point guard, and she responded by averaging 8.8 points, an area-best 4.3 assists and 1.2 blocked shots while also ranking among the leaders in rebounds (5.6) and free-throw percentage (72.5).
Santos said she will be back playing inside at Oakland while the coaches put her in position to use her versatility.
"They want to use my ability to shoot and dribble to have other '5s' guard me and then to take them away from the basket and their comfort zone from their basket," Santos said. "I'll be the 5 but I'll be setting picks up top to pop for the 3-pointer."
Santos, an IBCA honorable mention all-state pick last year who plays for Midwest Elite in the summer, also visited UIC and Loyola, and was going to make plans to see TCU and Northern Kentucky.
Santos said she plans to major in physical therapy. That was another plus for Oakland with the school's new multimillion dollar building where many of her classes will be.
With two Division I players in the family, Sidney said her younger brothers KJ and Nate could be next. KJ, a junior, left Tuesday to play at Vermont Academy, and Sidney said watch out for Nate, going into sixth grade.
"We joke but it's not really joking that Nate is going to be the best out of all of us," said Sidney, who can hardly believe she's already a senior.
"It's so unbelievable because last year felt like my freshman year actually being able to play. I'm so excited to spend my senior year with my teammates and the chemistry we have. I expect a big season. It's going to be a good one, knock on wood, if everyone stays healthy."