Abbi Denton Signs with Lady Vols
Abbi Denton officially signed with the Lady Vols of John A Logan where she will continue her basketball career. The signing ceremony was held in the Ballard Memorial High School library on Wednesday, April 16th. After completing her fifth year as a Lady Bomber basketball player, she is ready to turn her attention to the college ranks. “This is the real deal. All the things I have done have been so I can reach this point,” said Denton. The question may be, is she ready for college basketball? According to John A Logan Head Coach Marty Hawkins, he believes so. Hawkins, who will be starting his 16th season as head coach at JAL, said, “I think she will have an immediate impact. I am the head coach and I’ve seen her play a couple of times and I really like what I have seen.”
Denton began her varsity career as an eighth grader and her first varsity coach Kevin Estes could see something special in the then middle schooler. “She had a lot of skills that kids her age did not possess and she had a lot of ball sense.” He added, “She just understood the game at a high level which most players did not obtain until their junior or senior years.” Coach Billie Prince was able to coach Denton for her freshman and sophomore years and echoes those sentiments. Prince said, “I really think her ball savvy and court awareness separated her from others.” He added, “She is going to get better the next two years because she is going to work at it and she has that athleticism to get better. She can do a little bit of everything and she is pretty good at all of it.”
Kayla Vance was Denton’s head coach during her senior season and says, “One thing that is realllly going to be hard to replace will be her leadership. She’s the coach on the floor.” Denton’s scoring soared in her senior year and that allowed her to finish her Lady Bomber basketball career with 1277 points. Her senior year saw her finish with 465 points as she connected on 44% of all her shots from the floor. She leaves Ballard Memorial as the Lady Bombers’ ninth all-time leading scorer. Her versatility is going to be a great attribute as she goes to the next level. She can shoot the outside shot, and she can handle the ball at the point guard position. Although she is not as tall as many of the college players she will be facing, her jumping ability will help make up for that difference if she has go to into the low post.
Denton’s love of the game is evident each time she is on the floor. She says, “Basketball has meant so much to me that I did not want to let it end with high school. I want to move on to college because I really love the game.” She also said, “Being a Lady Bomber helped me become the person I am and the player I am.” Coach Vance said the advice she gave Denton was to, “Have fun and play the game like she has always played. Play hard. She will not have any problems with that because that is the kind of person she is. She works hard at everything she does.” That hard work ethic is also one of the things that caught JAL Coach Hawkins attention. He said, “I really like the tempo that she plays the game with and how hard she plays.”
Denton wanted to make sure to thank those that helped her make it to this point in her career. She said, “I want to thank God for everything.” She added, “It’s amazing the support from my family and Ballard County through all of this and I appreciate all the support. I would not be here without them.” Coach Hawkins also wanted to remind the people of Ballard County that John A Logan is in Carterville, Illinois. He said, “We’re only about an hour or so away, so tell all your fans they can come up and see her play.”
Denton became the fourth Ballard Memorial student athlete to sign on to continue their playing careers in college. Shawn Johnson signed to play football at Campbellsville University in central Kentucky. Joining him at Campbellsville will be Hailey Houston who will be playing soccer in college. Also signing a soccer scholarship was Millie Green who will play at Benedictine University in Lyle, Illinois.
Johnson won the Ballard Memorial prestigious Ben Sydboten Award. He was a four year letterman, three year starter, and also a two year co-captain. He also earned All WKC honors his junior and senior years. Houston finished as one of the state’s top assists leader in 2013. She received the All Academic First Team in soccer as well as receiving highest GPA on the 2014 basketball team. She also was Ballard Memorials recipient of the Joey Fosko Scholarship. Green left Ballard Memorial as the school’s all-time leading scorer finishing with 75 goals during her career.
Congratulations to all of our student athletes and thank you for giving of your time and talents for those in the community to enjoy. Best wishes for all of our seniors as they prepare for the next chapter in their lives.