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November 17, 2018

University of Michigan Women’s Basketball Player Jillian Duston Offers Advice

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The Michigan Daily has called her the “The unsung hero of Michigan women’s basketball.” That would be pressure for most women’s basketball players but that title seems to fuel this incredible athlete. It’s hard to keep up with this young lady’s statistics but just to name a few:

  • Academic All-Big Ten
  • Graduated second all-time in rebounding (862)
  • Started all 33 games, averaging 3.3 points, a team-high 9.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 32.5 minutes per game
  • Helped U-M to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013
  • Totaled 15 games with at least 10 rebounds
  • Ranked first in the Big Ten for assist to turnover ratio (4.00), defensive rebounds per game (8.0)
  • Grabbed 13 rebounds, dished out three assists and scored two points against Minnesota (Feb. 14)
  • Recorded 13 rebounds and three steals against Northwestern (Jan. 28)
  • Added six points, six rebounds and five assists against Michigan State (Jan. 23)
  • Recorded a season-high 15 rebounds to go with four assists against North Florida (Dec. 12)
  • Grabbed 14 rebounds, while adding seven points and four assists against Marquette (Dec. 7)
  • Recorded a season-high nine points along with 14 rebounds against Ohio (Nov. 25)

LRT Sports Kathyrn House had the opportunity to speak with Jillian about the recruiting process, how many official visits she would recommend, what it takes to make an NCAA Tournament and more.

LRT Sports Kathyrn: What is one piece of advice you would give a high schooler going through the college basketball recruiting process?

Jillian: I would say don’t get caught up in the recruiting process. Don’t stress yourself out trying to get an offer from your “dream school”. Just play your game and the offers will come to you. Go where you are WANTED!

LRT Sports Kathyrn: How many official visits would you recommend to take? How many did you take? And why did you choose Michigan’s program?

Jillian: Depending on how late it is in the recruiting process, (maybe no later than junior year) I recommended using all of your allotted official visits, which is five, I think. Doing this will help you see the school in a different perspective and it will allow you to compare schools in more detail. Unofficial visits are very brief but official visits will help you get a good feel of the school. I only took one because at the time we were allowed to take officials, I had already committed to Michigan.

I had gone on plenty of visits and I made a list of everything I wanted in a school. And Michigan had every single thing I wanted so I knew it was the perfect fit. The coaches wanted me as much as I wanted to attend Michigan so I was very confident with my decision.

LRT Sports Kathyrn: Do you have a pregame rituals and if so what are they?

Jillian: I listen to music, meditate then I pray, and I make sure that I put my socks and shoes on the left foot first.

LRT Sports Kathyrn: What does it take in a team to make an NCAA tournament appearance in your opinion? And what’s your favorite memory of this years (2018) appearance?

Jillian: Everybody has to care and want to win. Bad apples can spoil a season, so as long as everyone is bought in and on board to accomplish the same goals, then the whole team will be driven to make the NCAA tournament.

My favorite memory from this year was just being there. We worked so hard for four years to get there so I was taking it all in.

LRT Sports Kathyrn: I know college sports and academics can put a stain on athletes, what’s a piece of advice you can give to athletes when they may feel overwhelmed with this circumstance?

Jillian: I would suggest to do your work early and space it out, so it doesn’t all catch to you at once. Sometimes assignments can catch you off guard, which is already on top of practice every day, and traveling for games. So just space out your assignments, start them early: for example maybe you want to start an outline 2 weeks before an essay is due. And I would say ask for help when you need it!

LRT Sports Kathyrn: What is your favorite basketball drill/exercise and why would you recommend a player to incorporate it into their practice?

Jillian: Not that I have a favorite drill but always do everything game speed, so that you’ll always be game ready. A drill I love is (3 on 2- to- 2 on 1). It’s a fast pace drill and allows you to condition while working on both offense and defense.

LRT Sports Kathyrn: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you in a game/ locker room or to your team in a game/ locker room?

Jillian: My freshman year after every game won in the WNIT we would prank the coaches by scaring them, hiding, locking them out of the locker room, or throwing water on them!

As you can tell from Jillian’s successful career at The University of Michigan some big keys are to give it all you have in every moment in the classroom or on the court, but in addition, have fun with it! Jillian is an amazing example of a hard worker and strong athlete. Jullian is admired by the Michigan Athletic staff, community, fans, alum, and other student athletes. Jillian wouldn’t trade her Michigan or college basketball experience for anything. So if you are reading this and going through the recruiting process, just know it will all workout how it should and hopefully be some of the best years of your life.

YOUR JOURNEY STARTS HERE