Naperville Central's Melby picks Tennessee-Martin

  • Naperville Central's Gabi Melby, left, will play college basketball at Tennessee-Martin.

    Naperville Central's Gabi Melby, left, will play college basketball at Tennessee-Martin. Daily Herald file photo

Updated 10/7/2020 2:49 PM

With two older volleyball-playing sisters, it's a wonder Gabi Melby took another path.

"I grew up in a volleyball gym," the Naperville Central senior said.


Turns out there was one other family member that had quite an influence.

That would be Gabi's father Dave, who played college basketball at Western Illinois University and Elmhurst College.

While she tried volleyball like her sisters, plus soccer, softball and every sport possible, it became clear that it was her father's sport she liked the best.

And that ended up to be a great decision. Entering her senior season with 1,099 career points, Melby recently decided on Tennessee-Martin to play college basketball.

"I knew I wanted to play college basketball," Melby said. "When I committed it felt really great to know where I am going and accomplished this goal I've had forever.

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"I just love basketball. I love the game. I loved learning it and studying it and it's a connection my dad and I have that I have always cherished. I owe everything I am today to him. I wouldn't be where I'm at without him."

Melby has been an impact player for Andy Nussbaum's program since her freshman year. She averaged 7.5 points her first year, then 16.2 and 15.8 her next two seasons, hitting 82 3-pointers in 32 games last year while averaging just under 4 assists.

That's the type of production Tennessee-Martin coach Kevin McMillan is excited to get.

Melby said the recruiting process was complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. She played in a handful of AAU tournaments this summer with Midwest Elite but Division I coaches were not allowed to watch in person, instead getting live streams that weren't often easy to follow.

"The quality of the livestream wasn't good and you couldn't really see it," Melby said. "There was a ton of problems and it was really hard and stressful to keep your mindset straight. I just knew everything happens for a reason and I kept my head up."


Tennesse-Martin was one of the first schools to offer Melby. She visited the campus in June.

"I just fell in love with the school and community and everything it offered to me," Melby said. "I love coach McMillan and all the coaches on the coaching staff and I trust them with everything."

Melby said she will major in computer science. First, she's hoping to get one more year with her high school teammates.

If Naperville Central plays a typical schedule this winter, she likely will end up somewhere around third or fourth on the school's all-time scoring list. However, the schedule is very much up in the air.

"I'm really hoping we get a season," Melby said. "We have worked our hardest, trying to get in the gym for contact days and stay positive and create chemistry with the team and keep our heads up and keep working. We just have to have a season. It's going to be heartbreaking if that doesn't happen."

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