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Bogan’s Brittany Byrd expected to fly high at UIC

Bogan’s Brittany Byrd did not want to play basketball growing up. That’s when her brother, former Simeon guard Salvador Brown, intervened.

“I wasn’t interested in basketball,” Byrd said. “Then, when I was in sixth grade, my brother forced me to play. Once I came to high school my freshman year, I really liked playing for coach [Gary] Bell. It interested me a lot, so I kept playing.”

Now?

“I never get tired of playing,” she said.

The 5-9 Byrd is a four-year varsity player and three-year starter at Bogan, where she averaged nearly 19 points and four rebounds per game as a junior and attracted the attention of UIC coach Regina Miller. Byrd signed with UIC this fall.

“The program is really good,” Byrd said. “I visited a couple of other schools (including the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and Claflin University, a historically black Division II school in Orangeburg, South Carolina).

“One of the things I liked about [UIC] was that it was close to home.”

Miller, who led UIC to the most successful season in program history with 26 wins in 2013-14 and has the Flames off to their best start in 19 years this season at 6-1, believes Byrd can make an immediate impact on her program.

“She likes to attack the basket and can do it from either wing,” Miller said. “She is more of a slasher on offense but can also hit the jumper if given space. She plays aggressive defense with lots of energy and a high motor.”

Byrd doesn’t save that energy only for games. She is also the hardest worker at practice. Byrd will shoot from a number of spots on the floor 10 times and won’t rest until she makes at least eight shots out of 10 from each spot.

“I call her a ‘junkyard dog,’” Bell said. “She outworks everyone. She leads us in points, she leads us in rebounds. Just her presence on the floor. She can shoot the long 3-pointer and she can create. On our press, she plays the backrow so well.”

Byrd relishes all the responsibilities thrust upon her.

“I’m not a one-dimensional player,” she said. “I like to do multiple things … rebound, attack the basket, play hard defense.”

Byrd is also motivated to excel in the classroom. Math, particularly calculus, is her favorite subject. She is currently pulling down four As and three Bs. The consequences of anything less, however, would be devastating.

“If I get a ‘C,’ I can’t play basketball for a while,” she said.

When she’s not playing basketball or doing homework, she’s likely enjoying her other favorite activity.

“I like to watch TV,” she said. “My favorite show is ‘Vampire Diaries.’ It’s interesting. I learned a lot about it.”

And this is one Byrd that has a bite.