Although she had a standout all-area season as a freshman, Taylor Will didn't start thinking about playing basketball in college until her sophomore year.
Then she learned about coach Ashley Sandstead-Graham's stellar basketball career at Illinois State and Buffalo Grove High School.
"Coach Graham (a former Daily Herald all-area honorary tri-captain) started coaching at Prospect my sophomore year," Will said "She has always been such an inspiration to me so I was sure I wanted to play in college after seeing how great her experience was.
"I am unbelievably lucky to have been taught by such an amazing person. She has helped me tremendously and I cannot thank her enough for all she's done."
After this season, opposing teams in the Mid-Suburban League will be thankful they don't have to defend the 5-foot-10 Will any longer.
That will be the new challenge for Ivy league schools.
Will has made a verbal commitment to play for Brown University in Providence, R.I.
The Bears will be getting one of the most prolific scorers in Prospect history.
With her 1,247 points, Will is third on the school's all-time scoring list behind Colleen Grant (1,352) and first-year Knights girls volleyball coach Gabrielle Cottrell Lovin (1,304).
Scoring points isn't even her favorite part of the game.
"My favorite part is defense," Will said. "The energy is extremely high and this helps fuel the offense. The game becomes more exciting when there is a defensive stop, and it makes the game more dynamic than just scoring points."
But there is something even more special for Will and her career at Prospect.
"My favorite part is playing with my best friends and my sister (Haley, a sophomore) on our high school team," Taylor said. "Having them all by my side is truly an experience I will remember forever.
"They all support me every step of the way and I'm grateful because we are there for each other."
Will has one more season with her beloved Knights and then she will move on to Brown.
"The thing about Brown that is amazing is the balance between the education, basketball, and college life," said Will, who has made the honor roll for all six semesters so far at Prospect. "The staff wants you to succeed and there are people all over campus that are glad to help."
Coaches Sarah Behn, Ralph Tomasso, Jesyka Burks-Wiley, and Tyler Patch made Will feel like she would be joining a family.
"That was a key factor for my decision because choosing your college impacts your future," said Will, who may study business. "College is your home away from home and your team is your family, so I wanted to make sure it was the right fit."
Will's cousins, Ali and Bill Hedberg, were on the swim team at Brown.
"They told my family and me stories about the amazing opportunities and unforgettable experiences available that they had," Taylor said. "So it was a no-brainer.
"Everything I want in a school presents itself at Brown so I knew when we visited that it was the school for me."
Getting there was the result of countless hours of work on the basketball floor and several influential people in Will's life.
"I have to thank Ashley Graham, Paul Schoenbeck, Matt Truding, Kahleaf Russell, Steve Pratt, Dustin Seemann, Jeff Bergman, John Batcha, and my amazing parents, Gina and Tony Will, for all they've done for me," Taylor said. "It would not have been possible without all of the time and work they've invested in me and I'm so grateful."
Graham is grateful to have had the opportunity to coach Will.
"I could not be happier for Taylor and her family," Graham said. "Taylor has put so much time, energy and hard work into the sport of basketball."
Will, an all-stater, averaged 19.9 pts, 5.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.3 steals last season.
"As I always tell people, Taylor deserves everything that comes her way because of her relentless pursuit to be the best player she can and do things the right way," Graham added. "She is a true competitor and Brown is not only getting a great basketball player but a wonderful kid."
She literally started playing the game as a 'kid' and still has a memento from her very first days in the sport.
"My family has always played basketball but I was in second grade when I started playing on a team," she said. "I was signed up with the park district league with many of my friends from elementary school.
"I remember actually being out for dinner with my family and my dad asked me if I wanted to start officially playing. He started teaching me the rules and strategies and I was immediately intrigued. He drew out a court on a napkin and I actually still have it."
And now she has many more memories from the game she loves.
"I want to thank my parents for making this dream become a reality," she said. " I have so much pride in the person I have become because of what they have taught me. I also want to thank my two sisters, Haley and Andie, for being there for me. They mean the world to me and it will not be the same without them when I'm at Brown."
But first, in a few months, she will begin her fourth and final season of basketball at Prospect.
"The great thing about our team is we fight for each until the end," Will said. "We are friends on and off the court and I think our chemistry explains our will to play. I wouldn't change a thing about my experience through high school."