From the time she first stepped on a basketball court as a kindergartner, Jordan Wood had never played another sport.
The Carmel senior’s college future is settled — she’s committed to Michigan State — and she wanted to try something new before turning her attention to defending the Corsairs’ Class 3A state title this winter.
So Wood is bringing her 6-5 presence to the net for the Carmel girls volleyball team.
“I feel like I’m quickly picking it up,” she said, though this sport is understandably still a little less instinctive than her main one.
“When I think about playing basketball, I know the rules,” Wood said. “With volleyball, I can’t hit this way. With basketball it’s easy, if you miss a shot the other team doesn’t get a point.”
Wood and the Corsairs didn’t miss much last season when they won state in the program’s first appearance. They avenged two earlier losses to East Suburban Catholic Conference rival Nazareth by winning the final 43-39.
Wood is one of four starters back from that team (though one is injured and not expected back till January). The motivation this year, Wood said, is to show last season wasn’t a fluke.
“We want to try our best to defend that, to show why we deserved to win last year,” she said.
The Corsairs had a rare luxury last season with four 6-footers on the roster led by Wood and 6-4 Grace Sullivan, the one starter who graduated.
That didn’t mean Wood and Carmel played slow, or that all the offense was funneled into the post.
Besides averaging 14.4 points and 6.6 rebounds last season, Wood also led the Corsairs in assists (3.2 per game) and showed the ability to hit a three-pointer when the occasion presented itself.
“I think she’s developed even more of her perimeter skills,” Carmel coach Ben Berg said. “She can go inside or out. If they put a guard on her, she’s developed her low post game with her back to the basket. If they put a big on her, she can step out and shoot the three.”
As for Wood’s passing, Berg said, “she’s always had that vision, even as a freshman. Every year she’s evolved on the offensive end of the floor, making the right read at the right time.”
That’s clearly what Michigan State saw in one of the leaders of Illinois’ exceptional senior class. At No. 57, Wood is one of seven IHSA players in the espnW/HoopGurlz top 100 national rankings. Three others also are committed to Big Ten schools: No. 73 Katy Eidle of Hersey to Michigan, No. 79 Emily Fisher of Libertyville to Maryland and No. 81 Lenee Beaumont of Benet toIndiana.
Michigan State checked off a lot of boxes for Wood, who remained in close contact withSpartans coaches throughout the process and made her campus visit as soon as the pandemic-related recruiting restrictions were lifted.
“My family felt it too: this is home,” she said.
Playing in the Big Ten, with most venues within driving distance for her family to see games, was a big part of her decision.
“I’m very [much a] homebody,” Wood said. “I love being with my family. I could not imagine going super far.”
She has gone far, of course, in a basketball sense. The national ranking, the Power Five commitment and the state title all prove that.