Home Sports Warren’s Nari Powers played nary a quarter last season, her first on varsity. The Division I prospect says, ‘I’m back.’

Warren’s Nari Powers played nary a quarter last season, her first on varsity. The Division I prospect says, ‘I’m back.’

by staff

Nari Powers couldn’t see the future when she made a difficult choice two years ago.

During her freshman season at Carmel, Powers decided not to take a promotion to the varsity team.

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“I talked to my parents about it, and they were fine with me not playing varsity as a freshman,” she said. “I knew I was a good player. But I talked to a (college) coach, and she told me to play junior varsity. I would get more playing time. But it was pretty rough because I had colleges looking at me.”

After a solid season playing on Carmel’s JV team, Powers transferred to Warren for her sophomore year. But her highly anticipated varsity debut was short-lived. She said she played less than a minute of the Blue Devils’ opener against Loyola before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

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“It was really tough and ruined my sophomore year,” Powers said. “I had colleges looking at me, including from the Big Ten. Some coaches stopped talking to me. I waited so long to finally play with the girls I grew up with.

“I was coming off a screen, and my knee just gave out. I got right up and ran past half-court but sat back down. I waited all that time to play varsity but then had to sit out a whole nine months and watch my teammates play and missed all of my AAU season.”

Warren coach John Stanczykiewicz said it was an unfortunate injury and bad timing for both Powers and his program.

“It was one of those crazy injuries that seems to happen all too often in girls basketball,” Stanczykiewicz said. “She was simply backpedaling and planted to change directions, and her knee buckled and gave out.

“She had a tremendous two weeks of practice leading up to that game and was really looking good. We were really looking forward to seeing what she could do.”

Powers said she was cleared to play the sport she is “so passionate about” on June 6. Since then, the 6-foot-2 junior has been on a mission to showcase her skills. She can play all five positions and has drawn interest from a wide range of Division I programs. She said she has made unofficial visits to Illinois, Northwestern, Toledo and UCLA but doesn’t have an offer.

Her recent play for the Blue Devils (8-9) could change that. She scored 13 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer, against Rolling Meadows on Dec. 21, and she had 20 points in a win against Zion-Benton on Dec. 2.

Powers, who plays AAU basketball for Mac Irvin Lady Fire, said she’s excited to be back on track. She called her performance on both ends of the court against Rolling Meadows’ 6-4 junior center Roisin Grandberry the breakout game of her career.

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Warren’s Nari Powers pushes the ball up the court after making a steal against Round Lake during a game in Gurnee on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023.

“I had a good game, and I shut (Roisin) down,” Powers said. “She’s a very good player. I felt that was the game that showed that I’m back. My threes were deep, and I was not making them before that game.

“I feel that I’m playing good, averaging almost a double-double with a lot of steals. I really like playing on this team. I feel like my AAU season is going to be really big. I just have to play my game and wait because college coaches want to see me play in live AAU and see how I feel with my ACL.”

Stanczykiewicz has coached numerous Division I players during his Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame career. He said Powers’ versatility is one of her best traits.

“Nari’s natural position is facing the basket,” he said. “However, she’s the tallest player on a relatively short team, so she’s been asked to play more inside. Except for the first two weeks of the season, we haven’t had a chance to see Nari play or evaluate where her best position is, so the first half of the season has been a learning period for us.

“Nari has the potential, if she dedicates herself to working hard and improving her skills and never being satisfied, to have the opportunity to be a really good player. She has a great personality and has a great combination of size and athleticism.”

Bobby Narang is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.

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