Van Zeeland commits to Illinois State

Kaukauna's Chloe Van Zeeland has committed to play college basketball at Illinois State. (Doug Ritchay/WLUK)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Kaukauna's Chloe Van Zeeland is one of the most versatile players in northeast Wisconsin and it hasn't gone unnoticed by college recruiters.

Wednesday night Van Zeeland let everyone know her intentions for college when she committed to Illinois State.

She picked the Redbirds over the likes of Milwaukee, Valparaiso, North Dakota, Bradley and IUPUI.

"They've been with me from the beginning," Van Zeeland said. "I have a really good connection with them. They treated me like I'm family already. That's what stood out for me right away."

The 6-1 Van Zeeland will join former Fond du Lac star Ally Gietzel at Illinois State and Gietzel was a key in her picking Illinois State.

"I asked her a lot of questions and she reassured me and helped me make my decision," Van Zeeland said. "She helped me a lot."

Another key was joining a program that wins. Illinois State has had consecutive 19-win seasons.

"I want to be part of that culture. They're not going to back down at all."

Van Zeeland endured a tumultuous season last year as coach Craig Hawley left the program mid-season and was replaced on an interim basis by Autumn Hennes. Kaukauna finished 11-13, but this spring Van Zeeland is confident it will be a smooth 2020-21 season as the Galloping Ghosts hired Joe Russom, who led Appleton North to back-to-back state titles in 2017-18, and then stepped down after the second state title.

"I'm so excited," she said. "He's going to change the whole mentality. He has had great success. I want that for Kaukauna.

"We have one of the best coaches in the state and I want him to be so proud of me and make sure we are the best team we can."

With Van Zeeland returning along with Sutten Ebben, Maddy McCabe, Graysin Hartjes and Aspen Novy, the expectation for Van Zeeland is to compete for the Fox Valley Association title, which is always competitive at the top.

"I hope that we're conference champs," said Van Zeeland, who averaged 13.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game last season. "We have such great teams in our conference, but if we listen to Joe, if we do everything, we can do it. We basically have the same group from last year."

Part of Van Zeeland's plan entering her senior year was to have her college basketball future mapped out. It is and now she can focus on trying to lead Kaukauna to a great season.

"I wanted to know where I wanted to go after my junior year," she said. "This year's going to be for me to get stronger and get ready for college."

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay