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Burke signs with Illinois; Burley to UNCC

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

ALBANY -- Alexis Burke loves wearing flip-flops, but she'll have to put them away. For her, it's a small price to pay to live out her college basketball dream.

Bainbridge's star guard Burke signed to play for the University of Illinois on Tuesday, the first day of the early signing period.

Burke averaged 18 points and nine rebounds per game last season and scored 30 points in a win that placed the Lady Bearcats in the state semifinals. Now, she hopes to lead Illinois to similar heights on the next level.

"I believe in coach (Jolette) Law's vision," said Burke who was also recruited by nearly every major program in the nation, including finalists Rutgers, Florida and Oklahoma. "Coach Law's vision is to put Illinois on the map this year. I want to be the player that made her vision come true."

In placing ink to paper on Wednesday, it finally put behind a long recruitment journey that began about two years ago.

"It was a longer, bigger process than expected," Burke said. "I took my time and made my visits and I think I made the right decision. Once I got through signing, I felt like a burden was lifted off my shoulders. I am happy to have it all over with."

BURLEY TO CHARLOTTE: Every text message Tiona Burley sent out on Wednesday was concluded with a simple phrase: "It's official."

Indeed, Burley made her commitment to play basketball for Charlotte official today when she signed at Mitchell County High School.

The 6-foot-3 Mitchell star averaged 13 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks a game last season for the Lady Eagles and now takes her game to UNCC where she will play inside for head coach Karen Aston.

"Tiona came on the scene late and I believe her upside is huge," Aston said. "She has soft hands and touch around the basket and once she gets used to the pace of college basketball, will be a force. In our system, Tiona will be able to thrive in our high-low game, and again, I am expecting a beast on the boards."

Burley basked in the glory of her special day at Mitchell and says as she walked the halls friends and classmates alike all were screaming for her.

"It was very loud in the halls," Burley said. "A lot of people were talking to me and all the yelling was very unnecessary."

The senior followed that comment with a laugh. Her sense of humor was part of the package that Aston said initially sold her on center from Camilla.

"Tiona come from a terrific family and has an infectious personality," Aston said.