Tylka can wait for sun to set on Wauconda career
Don't even bother thumbing the Google Maps app on your phone. It says it right there on Florida Atlantic University's basketball court.
"1.8 MILES TO THE BEACH."
Ask Wauconda senior basketball star Allie Tylka about it and her smile suggests she's already there, mentally.
Aaaaah, paradise. Or as FAU also promotes (cleverly), "WINNING IN PARADISE."
Sure beats time in "Wintry Wauconda" or "Icy Illinois."
"I really like their program," Tylka said of FAU. "I really feel comfortable there."
Who wouldn't feel comfortable knowing palm trees and waves are just a long walk away? Sometimes, life is a beach.
Playing basketball anywhere, actually, makes Tylka smile. She would practice 3-pointers on an iceberg.
She planned to sign her letter of intent with FAU this week. She verbally committed last summer after a visit to the Boca Raton campus, following a summer of AAU ball with Illinois Elite. Last season, the Owls went 13-15, including 7-9 in Conference USA. Tylka also had offers from Missouri-Kansas City, Valparaiso and Ball State.
The 6-foot combo guard is Wauconda's first Division I girls basketball recruit this century.
For now, however, she is focused on playing her fourth varsity season. The Bulldogs host their annual, season-opening Thanksgiving tournament this week.
Florida's beaches can wait.
"I feel relaxed because I don't have to worry anymore about schools looking at me," Tylka said. "But at the same I still have the same mentality going (into my senior season). I want to work hard and get as many buckets as I can to help out my team, maybe work more on getting assists this year, instead of just getting my own points.
"And defensively, I just want to stay strong."
It would be hard for Tylka to play any harder than she has her first three seasons for the Bulldogs. She hit 1,000 career points in Wauconda's regional-final loss to St. Viator last February.
"You got to admire her drive," Wauconda coach Jaime Dennis said. "She works harder than anybody we've ever had in the program."
It's just what Tylka does. Her statistics last season help explain how much of a factor she can be at either end of the court. She averaged 18.1 points, 10 rebounds, 3.8 steals, 2.8 assists and 2.6 blocks per game on a 14-14 team that regularly played 3-4 freshmen every game.
"I just really like basketball," said Tylka, the middle child of Ron and Majella. "When I step on the court, I know, whether I had a bad day or not, that I can just play my game and do what I want. I just love to compete."
Her desire to play takes precedence over aches and pains. She tweaked her back about midseason last winter -- "It got worse and worse," she said -- but played through it.
"I haven't had problems recently so I'm pretty sure it's back to normal. ... Knock on wood."
"When she was healthy, they couldn't stop her," Dennis said.
When Tylka felt her hamstring tug during practice recently, she insisted to her coach that she didn't need time off. She'll be applying sunscreen lotion at a Florida beach soon enough.
For now, she'll settle for burning defenders.
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