- Scott Powers, Reporter
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Hersey senior Megan Rogowski gets what others see when they first observe her on a basketball court.
"I'm not the tallest," the 5-foot-9 shooting guard said. "I'm not the fastest. I'm not the strongest. I fit none of those categories."
They're all categories Rogowski's future college coach, DePaul's Doug Bruno, would classify under the "eye test." Coaches and scouts often watch a player and judge them instantaneously by evaluating such attributes.
In Rogowski's case, she doesn't fare well. On first take, Rogowski, the ESPNChicago.com/Muscle Milk Prep Athlete of the Week, doesn't measure up to the top players in the country. But for those who stick around beyond first impressions, they witness Rogowski's true brilliance as a player.
"Every recruit is its own detective story," Bruno said. "When you just look at Megan first glance, she doesn't jump at you in the eye test. You have to study Megan. If you study Megan, you realize how quick her first step is, how she's got an uncanny ability to get her shot off against quicker, longer athletes. It's really a process. Too many coaches go and give it a cursory look, and she doesn't look like other players."
Rogowski may not be your prototypical high school star, but she can score with the best of them. Whether playing for Hersey or the Illinois Hustle at the club level, Rogowski has lit up some of the best players and teams from across the country.
Early in her career, Rogowski was solely a shooter. Coaches would try to run her off screens and give her a little space, and she would drain jumper after jumper. But in time, opponents got wise, and Rogowski had to diversify her game. Over the last few years, Rogowski has become a complete scorer. She burns opponents from inside and out.
To get a taste of what's she capable of, here are some of Rogowski's performances just over the last month:
Against Prospect on Jan. 8, she scored 21 of her 33 points in the fourth quarter.
In the championship game of the Bill Neibch holiday tournament, she had 29 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and three steals in a win over Waubonsie Valley.
A day before that, she tied her school record with 42 points against Wheaton North.
A day before that, she hit the game-winner with 2.2 seconds left to beat Schaumburg.
Rogowski broke Hersey's career scoring record as a junior and recently eclipsed the 2,000-point mark. She'll likely finish her career somewhere in the state's top 50 all-time scorers.
"She's a scorer," Bruno said. "We believe that we recruit kids who score the basketball. You can say you can teach them to score, but not defend. I think it's the other way around. You can teach them to defend. It's called basketball for a reason. The object is to score the ball. She scores the ball."
Rogowski also defends it now, too. In the past, Rogowski had veterans around her, and her defensive responsibilities were limited. With the graduation of four starters from last year's team, Hersey coach Mary Fendley needed Rogowski to play a larger defensive role.
Rogowski accepted the challenge.
"She had actually a quote in the paper in the past few weeks where she said she was a horrible defender last year," Fendley said. "By all accounts, she has improved. This summer, she started to take it more seriously. She takes a lot of pride in it. She's improved her footwork and intensity.
"She will ask to guard the opponent's best person this year. It was completely the opposite last year."
It's one of the many ways Fendley has seen Rogowski evolve as a person and player since she began attending Hersey's basketball camps as a fourth grader.
"It's been cool to see how talented she is and how each year she does something impressive," Fendley said. "With any kid you've known for so long, it's cool for me to see how much she's improved. She has a great sense of humor and is funny. She's grown up as a person."
Now in her final season, Rogowski is looking to go out with a bang. Although the individual accolades are nice and all, she'd love another trip to the state tournament. If it were to end today, she feels her memorable high school career will be defined by last year's fourth-place finish at state.
"Our junior year we went downstate, and no one ever expected that to happen," Rogowski said. "We've never been a top team like Bolingbrook, Whitney Young or Fenwick. We were the first boys or girls basketball team from Hersey to make it downstate. It'll be something Hersey will never forget. It's something the community will never forget."