The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team has announced its incoming class for the 2018-19 season.
Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis. / Hortonville High School) and Ilysse Pitts (Aurora, Ill. / Montini Catholic High School) have inked National Letters of Intent to play collegiately for the Crusaders. The talented duo of incoming freshmen will join forces with a group of 13 players who are expected to return to the team next season.
Frederick, a 5-foot-7 guard, reached 1,000 career points as a junior at Hortonville. She enters her senior season 350 points shy of the school’s all-time scoring record for boys and girls. Frederick is a four-year letter winner for the Polar Bears and also won one varsity softball letter.
“We recruited a number of players on Shay’s AAU team, and all of the sudden, this kid stood out,” Valpo head coach Tracey Dorow said. “Shay Frederick just knocks down shots, she can shoot it from anywhere on the floor. Then we saw that she’s a good passer, too. The next thing you know, we realize she does a little bit of everything. She’s going to keep improving because her focus is to be the best all-around player on the floor, not just the best scorer.”
Frederick, a three-star recruit according to ESPN, has served as a captain during her junior and senior seasons. She has made 196 3-pointers through her first three prep years and her 3-point shooting percentage of 43.6 ranks first in the state of Wisconsin. She knocked down eight 3s in a single game, shattering the school record.
“Playing Division-I basketball has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember,” Frederick said. “There have been countless hours spent in the gym with my parents and many summers of AAU basketball. It took a lot of work to get here, so signing with Valpo was a really proud moment. I couldn’t have done it without all of the support I’ve received.”
Frederick cited the University’s family atmosphere as a key factor in her decision to attend Valpo.
“The players are all extremely supportive of one another, and that’s something I want to be a part of,” she said. “When I first visited the campus, I met the coaches and felt something click between my family and the coaches and between me and the players. When Coach Dorow started to get into what the program is all about and the values the program is built upon, I knew this was the right fit.”
A member of the all-area and all-conference first teams in each of her first three prep campaigns, Frederick also earned all-state honorable mention as a sophomore and all-state first-team as a junior. She led Hortonville to the state tournament during her junior season, the school’s first state appearance in 30 years.
“As a coach you’re always looking for players you can trust, and she’s one of them,” Hortonville High School coach Celeste Ratka said. “That’s one of the best compliments I can give a student-athlete. She’s turned into a much-respected leader in our program; I’m most proud of the way she’s grown in that area. She doesn’t worry only about herself, she elevates the game of those around her.”
As a junior in high school, Frederick averaged 16.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. She knocked down 79 3-pointers, shot 41 percent from the floor and 85 percent at the free-throw stripe.
Frederick also thrives in the classroom, where she owns a 4.0 GPA and is a member of National Honor Society. She plans to major in sport management at Valpo.
“I talked to coaches from Power 5 conferences this summer, and they said, ‘We saw Shay play and she lit it up. You’ve got a good one in her,’” Dorow said. “That makes me light up like a Christmas tree. It’s amazing to hear others talk about Shay’s potential.”
A 5-foot-7 guard, Pitts averaged 8.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 3.1 steals as a junior last season. She is expected to be a force on the defensive end.
“There’s no doubt Ilysse’s athleticism stands out,” Dorow said. “She’s versatile and she’s just scratching the surface of what she can do on the offensive side of the ball. Her ceiling is so high. On the defensive side, we know exactly what we’re getting. She’s a one-man press. She can lock someone down and deny the paint, and she can keep it out of someone’s hands. I’m excited about the defensive intensity she brings. She never stops working and she doesn’t quit on any plays.”
Pitts helped Montini Catholic to a 33-2 overall record as the Broncos finished in third place in the 2017 IHSA 4A state tournament. The team also finished third in the 3A state tournament in 2015.
“The first thing that stood out to me about Valpo was the campus size,” Pitts said. “The administrative staff was informative and they took the time to address all of my academic and athletic needs. The surrounding community reminded me of home. I felt a warm connection with all of the coaches and staff members right from the beginning.”
One of Pitts’ standout performances came when she earned MVP honors at the Chicagoland Invitational Showcase in 2016 after pouring in 20 points in a game. She has also earned academic all-conference honors all three years of high school and is set to garner her fourth varsity letter on the hardwood.
Mike Seberger, who has coached Pitts in his Illinois Lady Lightning AAU program since she was in eighth grade, raved about her quickness, athleticism and post-passing ability.
“Valpo is getting a proven winner and competitor,” Seberger said. “All of her AAU teams have been big winners, winning multiple events and advancing to national tournaments. She’s going to get better and better once she begins year-round strength training at the college level. Ilysse is a sweetheart and a great person.”
Pitts is a three-year member of her school’s honor roll and plans to major in kinesiology with a minor in psychology at Valpo.
“My overall goal while attending Valpo is to acquire new skills and knowledge to use to obtain a degree in the medical field,” she said. “My journey will also allow me to meet new people that may turn into lifelong friendships. Another goal would be to play a part in successful basketball seasons and use this experience to take my game to the next level.”
Valpo knows unequivocally that it is gaining two members who will be perfect fits within the Valpo family.
“It’s not just Ilysse and Shay joining our program, it’s their entire families,” Dorow said. “The families knew they were going to be comfortable sending their daughters here. They’ll get along with the parents in our program really well because the rest of our parents are also very supportive of our players. We’re beyond thrilled and extremely blessed to welcome these two talented players to the Valpo family.”