INDIANAPOLIS — Many people in Indiana may not know who IU women’s basketball recruit Grace Berger is right now.
Not even Bankers Life Fieldhouse public address announcer Terry Downham recognized her for the majority of the first half of Saturday’s Indiana vs. Kentucky Girls High School All-Star Game.
Berger, sporting the number eight jersey for the Kentucky All-Stars, was continuously confused with Anna Clephane, who wore number nine.
However, as Berger dazzled the crowd with an array of impressive dribble moves and slashed her way to the basket, getting to the free throw line repeatedly, Downham soon realized his mistake.
Berger was on her way to getting her name announced often throughout the course of the game, as she posted a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds in a 83-70 loss for the Kentucky team.
The big night for the Louisville native came after a difficult shooting performance at Bellarmine University in Louisville in Game 1 of the all-star series Friday, in which she scored 11 points on just 4-12 shooting.
“I could definitely tell in warmups that my shot was feeling pretty good,” Berger said. “I was just trying to be aggressive.”
In fact, Berger was the only Kentucky player to get much consistency going on offense Saturday. While she shot a solid 6-11 from the field, the rest of her team struggled, shooting just 23-76 overall.
“There’s a certain way this game is supposed to be played and there’s certain ways not,” Kentucky All-Star Coach Joey Thacker said. “Today, we chose the latter option.”
Now, Berger’s time as a Kentucky star is up, as the next step of her career will be playing for IU Coach Teri Moren and the reigning WNIT champion Hoosiers next season.
Berger said she’s been in close contact with Moren, as her career at Sacred Heart Academy winds down and the all-star festivities over the weekend near.
“We text a lot,” Berger said. “She just keeps texting me good luck, and they keep up through Twitter a lot.”
Berger will bring an impressive resume to Bloomington once the 2018-19 season begins. She'll be the most heralded of IU’s three signees between her, guard Chanel Wilson of Powder Springs, Georgia, and forward Aleksa Gulbe of Riga, Latvia.
She was rated as a five-star recruit after her senior season at Sacred Heart, in which she averaged 14.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists. She is also just the second five-star recruit in IU program history, joining a fellow Louisville native — sophomore guard Jaelynn Penn.
Berger showed off some of that promise Saturday, rolling out an impressive combination of deadly dribble moves that left defenders in the dust multiple times, along with a lethal pull-up jump shot, an ability to run the offense from the point guard position and some nice footwork around the perimeter.
She said playing on a bigger stage than she was used to in high school didn’t deter her from pulling out her full arsenal of moves.
“Looking up and seeing all the lights and so many people in the stands, it was kind of nerve-racking,” Berger said. “But once the ball got tipped, I didn’t really think about it.”
Now, the Hoosiers, a team that could use some depth next season, will wait to see if Berger can show the same ability for them that she did under the bright lights of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
If she does, fans in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall won’t be forgetting her name anytime soon.
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