Brooks going to Akina Wellere wherever, whenever needed

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Brooks coach Reggie Dawson was asked what position 5-10 Akina Wellere plays. Guard? Forward? Center?

Dawson’s answer was none of the above.

“Basketball player,” he said.

Although listed a shooting guard, the St. John’s recruit plays anywhere and does anything her team needs.

“In college, l’m probably going to play the two or three,” Wellere said. “I’m not sure yet right now. I played forward until I got to high school and a lot of the girls were taller than me. I pretty much play any position [Dawson] asks me to play.”

Dawson isn’t afraid to ask Wellere to do a lot. He calls her “one of the best I’ve ever coached.”

“I’ve coached Akina since she was in grammar school,” he said. “She has remained the same throughout our time together. She’s always the first one to practice and the last to leave. I’ll be at home on a Sunday and she’ll call and want to work out. She’s also academically gifted.”

Wellere’s parents did not want their daughter to play basketball. They preferred she play soccer or run track. But after her grandmother, Dorothy Wellere, gave her a Nerf basketball hoop when she was 3 years old, she was hooked.

“My grandmother encouraged me to play,” Wellere said. “She played when she was younger. She got me the hoop to get me started off.”

Now Wellere wants to finish what her grandmother started. Last year, she led Brooks to the city championship game against Young. Along the way, the Eagles upset Morgan Park 81-78 in the semifinals behind Wellere’s 37 points.

Brooks lost to Young in the city title game despite 28 points and 13 rebounds from Wellere. A few days later, Morgan Park avenged its semifinal loss in the Class 3A regional title game. Runner-up finishes won’t do this winter.

“Our goal is to get back to city title game,” Wellere said. “It’s our goal every year. This year we want to get to the city championship game and win it. I think if we come out and compete and play hard, I think we can win it all.”

But a city championship is not Wellere’s only goal. She wants a state championship, too.

“I don’t want to go out losing my senior year,” Wellere said. “I really want to get a state championship. What we have to do is have a lot hustle, have a lot of heart, and have a lot of teamwork and I think we can pull it off.”

To achieve that goal, Wellere is trying to emulate the leaders she grew up admiring.

“I have tried to be a leader my whole life,” Wellere said. “Growing up, there have been girls like [Young’s] Linnae Harper. I looked up to girls like that and how they showed leadership in order to lead my team when the time came for me.”

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