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CHAMPAIGN -- Arcola's all-time leading scorer in the history of the girls' basketball program (1,476 points) Taylor Edwards, will continue her athletic career at the University of Illinois. She will be a member of the 2019-20 women's basketball team, coached by Nancy Fahey. 

Edwards, a four-year letter winner on the Illinois softball team will spend her fifth year on the basketball court. 

"We are excited to have Taylor join our basketball program after a great career with the Illinois softball program," said Fahey. "Taylor's commitment, work ethic and love of the Illini are readily apparent the minute you meet her. Although the sport is different, her competitive attitude is something any coach would want in their program."

Edwards was a JG-TC All-Area player all four years including her senior season when she missed half of the season with a stress fracture. She was a fourth team Illinois Basketball Coaches Association fourth team all-stater for the 21-8 Lady Riders who reached its second straight Class 1A sectional final in 2015. The 5-7 guard/forward averaged 14.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.3 steals her senior year, while shooting 45 percent from the field and 70 percent from the free throw line. 

"I love this game and I love this school so much," said Edwards. "I am so incredibly thankful for the chance to play again, and I am even more excited for the opportunity to wear "ILLINOIS" across my chest for more year. This place is special."

Edwards played basketball, softball and volleyball all four years and track for three years. She earned first-team all-Little Okaw Valley Conference honors in basketball three years and first team all-LOVC Northwest Division her senior year. In volleyball, she was a second-team all-LOVC player her first two years before earning first-team all-LOVC as a junior and first team all-LOVC NW as a senior. 

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Edwards has been in the Illinois High School Association Class 1A state meet, earning fourth place in the 800 her sophomore season with a time of two minutes 19.82 seconds and was on the fifth-place 4x800 team (9:50.57) after earning sixth as a freshman in the 800 (2:18.21).

Her senior year she was receiving letters for track and basketball but said softball was her No. 1 sport. 

A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and 2018 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, Edwards had a 3.41 career earned run average with a 37-19 pitching record. in 101 appearances for the Illini. The 21018 Fighting Illini Spirit Award winner and Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award honoree, Edwards had 120 strikeouts in 357 2/3 innings. 

As a junior Edwards helped Arcola, coached by Nancy Stiff, to a 22-5 Sweet 16 season by averaging 17.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 4.1 steals per game. She was an all-IBCA Honorable mention player who shot 50 percent from the field, including 41 percent from three-point territory. She passed the 1,000 point mark her junior season in the Dieterich Holiday Tournament. 

"She works extremely hard in everything she does," said Stiff to the JG-TC after Edwards earned all-area status. "She always goes that extra mile. She plays the game fairly and is a great example of unselfishness and sportsmanship on and off the court."

Illinois loses three players from a 10-20 season (2-16 in the Big Ten )in 5-7 guard Jaelyne Kirkpatrick and top scorer Alex Wittinger (14.7 points per game), a second-team all-Big Ten Conference player.

Contact Mike Monahan at (217) 238-6854. Follow him on Twitter: @monahanmikejgtc

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Sports writer

Mike Monahan covers area sports for the JG-TC.

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