An inside look at sports happenings from the local scene to the professional ranks by the sports staff at The Courier News.

South Elgin's Lopez bound for Sacramento State

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Dani Lopez's growth as a basketball player has been astounding.

Watching the South Elgin senior center play two years ago would never have led you to believe a Division I scholarship was possible. But the improvement the 6-foot-9, 275-pounder has made of late is phenomenal.

Coaches at Division I Sacramento State University took note. And Lopez made a visit there recently. He then verbally committed to the Hornets program.

Dani, as he wants to be known this season, will enroll at the Big Sky Conference school next year.

"They really wanted him and I think it's the right choice for him," South Elgin coach Chaz Taft said. "It's unbelievable the improvement he's made. But that's what happens when you get in the weight room and in the gym. He's worked hard."

Lopez said first-year coach Brian Katz, a Sacramento State alum, won him over.

"They're just great people," Lopez said of the coaching staff.

Lopez has always possessed the size of a difference-maker, but his skills have come a long way in recent months.

"Oh, definitely," he said when asked if his improvement has been dramatic. "That's what staying in the gym does for you, though."

Lopez figures on playing a prominent role for the Storm this winter.

"He's a big part of the picture," said Taft. "That's for sure."

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