Bostic challenging herself on court and in classroom

Jan. 7—CHAMPAIGN — Kendall Bostic's weekday schedule is usually packed.

At least it will be when the spring semester starts back up again at Illinois in mid-January.

The senior forward on the Illini women's basketball team will have most of her weekday hours accounted for with student teaching at Champaign Central High School in the mornings followed by early afternoon practices at either State Farm Center or Ubben Basketball Complex and then classes in the late afternoon and early evening hours.

"Fridays after practice, I get to go home and chill," Bostic said with a laugh in describing her schedule, "so it's super, super busy, but I enjoy it, so that helps a lot."

Bostic already holds her undergraduate degree in speech & hearing science, graduating in three years, which included a transfer from Michigan State after her freshman year in East Lansing, Mich., and is pursuing a master's degree in special education.

On the court, the 22-year-old Bostic — who could return for a fifth year next season due to the COVID-19 pandemic — is having a career season so far this winter. The 6-foot-2 forward is averaging 12.8 points and 8.9 rebounds, while shooting 66.7 percent from the field. Her efficient shooting has her ranked sixth nationally in that category before Illinois (6-6, 0-2 Big Ten) plays Wisconsin (7-6, 0-3) at 2 p.m. Sunday at State Farm Center in Champaign.

"Sometimes, with K.B., she just does everything, and you could take it for granted," Illini coach Shauna Green said, "so there's a lot of times I just sit back and just very grateful for everything that she does. Every day she's the same. ... Being consistent every day in your mindset, your work ethic, who you are, and she embodies that to a T. Everything, on and off the floor, it's just amazing what she does and the high level that she does it at. ... Her efficiency, that's why she shot the ball 18 times against Indiana. She has to shoot the ball that much every game and I've got to get her the ball, so we're going to be adamant about that."

Illinois ran its offense through Bostic in the first half of its 77-71 loss on Dec. 31 at then-No. 16 Indiana with Bostic, a Second Team All-Big Ten forward last season as a junior, largely matching what Hoosiers All-American forward Mackenzie Holmes did through 20 minutes.

Bostic finished the six-point loss to Indiana with a season-most in terms of both field-goal makes (9) and attempts (18).

It's all been part of a progression for Bostic as more of an offensive threat. That, along with her continued presence on the glass. Bostic ranks third in the Big Ten in rebounding, pulling down 8.9 rebounds per game. Even if those numbers are down from when Bostic averaged 9.8 rebounds last season and 11.4 as a sophomore in her first season at Illinois, she's still the Illini's top option.

"I think just being more offensively minded and just kind of developing more of my outside game," Bostic said of what's made her more efficient at the offensive end. "I worked with (assistant coach DeAntoine Beasley) a lot in the offseason and before practice some days, just kind of getting more comfortable with a one-dribble pull-up or my outside shot or kind of knowing how to get around those bigger defenders. So I think really being more offensively minded and not just relying on my offensive rebounds to get points and just being confident for sure."

That confidence, too, has come with Bostic expanding her offensive repertoire beyond just shots around the basket.

That's meant running pick-and-pop actions with Bostic. Or the senior forward attempting — and making — more 15-foot jump shots. Not to mention Bostic even shooting the occasional three-pointer, where she is 1 of 4 from beyond the arc this season.

"I think just trying to take those risks in practices and the scrimmages, and then just kind of seeing how it is in live play and maybe taking a shot or two during a game when the right opportunity arises and feeling that out and feeling the comfortability from there," Bostic said. "Knowing matchups, too. If I have a big that's just going to show low, I'm going to pop out. If I have a big that's all up in me, I'm going to post up. It's knowing our opponents."