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Whitney Young's Linnae Harper (15) is introduced before their quarterfinal game against Marshall in the Public League girls basketball playoffs on Saturday, January 26, 2012, in Chicago. | Chandler West~For Sun-Times Media
City champion (four times). State champion. McDonald’s All American.
There isn’t much Linnae Harper hasn’t accomplished during her four years at Young.
But if asked what has meant the most to her during her high school career, Harper always talks about the friendships she has made and continues to make, the bonds she has formed and being able to uphold the legacy established by her predecessors.
“The thing I will remember most about my high school career is being able to follow in the footsteps of players like Chanise Jenkins and Kiana Johnson,” she said. “Whitney Young has always had a phenomenal program, and there is a lot of pride in keeping the legacy going.
“And although I did not play with them every year, I grew up with most of these girls (her current teammates),” she added. “I’m really enjoying the ride.”
Harper’s ride from her freshman year when she was the second-leading scorer on the state runner-up to her senior year when she was recognized as one of the top players in the country and committed to Kentucky has been nothing short of phenomenal.
One of the peaks she enjoyed was finally beating Bolingbrook in the supersectional at Hinsdale Central last year after losing to the Raiders in the state championship game as a freshman and in the semifinals her sophomore year.
“Being able to beat our rival felt great,” she said. “I knew that game determined we were going downstate. But that game really didn’t hit me until the clock hit zero against Edwardsville in the championship.”
Harper scored 14 points and collected 14 rebounds in the 63-51 victory over Edwardsville, and continues to be the most dominant player whenever she steps on the court. This year, she is averaging 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals per game.
“Linnae has been an important part of our program since she was a freshman,” Young coach Corry Irvin said. “She is by far the best player in the state this season and has been one of the best in the state since she has been in high school.
“She is a do-everything player,” the coach added. “She can pass, score, rebound and defend. Her greatest aspect though, is she is a winner and knows what it takes to win and will put in the work needed to do so.
“Some players can do one thing well, but Linnae does a lot of things well and because she is unselfish, she is able to make her teammates better in the process.”
After losing Tessa Haldes, Janee Thompson and Alexis Lloyd from last year’s team, Young has had a few missteps this season. But with their 5-8 senior leading the way, the Dolphins are poised to make history again this weekend at the state tournament in Normal.
“People have said that this year’s team is not as good as last year, but even though we have not had a perfect season, it has allowed us to play with a chip on our shoulder,” Harper said. “And even though the losses we have had have hurt us, they have given us something to strive for.”