Niles West senior Jewell Loyd is the top player in the state of Illinois. She's ranked the fourth-best player in the country and she has won a gold medal for the USA under-17 team.

But even with all of these accomplishments, she does not let it go to her head. She is a team player first.

Case in point, when it was time to declare what college she was attending, a list that included powerhouses UConn and Tennessee, the 5'9" guard made sure she got an assist from her classmates when she decided she was taking her talents to South Bend.

"I feel blessed that I got a chance to get recruited from a lot of schools doing something that I love," Loyd said. "It was pretty awesome getting letters and stuff like that. I didn't really realize how fortunate I was until all the letters started piling in. Luckily, I found a school that I liked and signed and now I'm kind of stress-free, helping out my friends kind of cruising by senior year."

She's cruising by her senior year the same way she cruises past defenders on the hardwood. And if you ask her teammates and coaches, she loves making the perfect pass both on and off the court.

"She's a really good teammate," said junior guard Molly Kleppin. "She's always there for us, she always wants the best for us, it's not always about her. She always gives us really good pep talks at halftime. She always knows the right thing to say.

"I think she's an even better friend off the court. She's always there for me when I need her."

On more than one occasion, Loyd has singlehandedly scored more points than the opposing team. Yet, none of it would've happened without a few special people assisting her along the way.

"It's been a great situation," said coach Tony Konsewicz. "Sometimes you hear stories of players that are of that magnitude. The parents or families are sometimes difficult to deal with. Not the Loyd family they've been such a treat to deal with. So I've been very fortunate, I've had a great all around experience with the family."

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