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CARBONDALE — SIU forward Celina VanHyfte's mother, Valerie is in the Bradley Hall of Fame. Her father, Teddy, was the only male athlete in Annawan High School history to play Football Bowl Subdivision-level pigskin as of last year, competing at Wake Forest.

And neither of them thought Celina's youngest sister, Jayde, could break her all-time scoring record at Annawan High (2,493 points).

"The funny thing is my parents thought that the number was so big, and she was out for a year with an ACL tear, that she would not be able to break it," Celina said. "I was the only one in my family that said 'No, she definitely is.' And when it happened, I drove all the way home, five hours, just for the weekend, just to tell them to their face 'I told you.'"

Jayde, a 6-foot-1 forward, did, indeed, break Celina's school record. The freshman at Arizona State scored 2,775 career points for the Bravettes, earning all-state honors all four years. Jayde also broke Celina's all-time rebounds record and led Annawan to the 2017 state championship.

"I grew up idolizing my sisters, both of them (Celina also has a younger sister, Morgan, who is at Division II Central Missouri)," Jayde said. "I learned so much from them. Celina is more of the post prospect, and Morgan was more of a guard, but I definitely learned how to post up, and how to box out. Morgan is, like, 5-10, more of a wing."

Celina, a 6-foot senior, was also a four-time all-state honoree. She averaged 20.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for her high school career, and led Annawan to its first state girls basketball championship in 2014. Celina's 968 career field goals and 557 career free throws were eighth and 10th in IHSA history, respectively, when she graduated. 

And Celina nearly played another sport before one of her mom's coaches at Bradley, Cindy Stein, called to inquire about her future.

"When we got the job at SIU, I'd watch her and her sisters play, and I thought Celina may want to play softball," Stein said.

A first team all-state catcher, Celina thought about playing there in college, but changed her mind when Stein called.

"She just called my mom up and asked if I was even interested in playing basketball in college, and she was the first one to even see me as a basketball player instead of a softball player," Celina said. "I jumped at the opportunity."

Celina played in 23 games as a true freshman and started four of 33 games as a sophomore. Then a stress fracture in her femur knocked her out for the 2016-17 campaign.

"I think I lost a step, which happens sometimes when you're unable to use your entire leg for a year," she said. "Especially because I got a stress fracture for no reason, and I was being cautious with it because we didn't really know what caused it, but I feel like I'm back to 100 percent now."

Stein said Celina's final season will be as good as she makes it.

"When she came as a freshman she was just so aggressive, but she had to play behind Dyana (Pierre). Sometimes that makes you better, and sometimes it makes you lose confidence, and I think it made her lose confidence," Stein said. "We've been trying to find that ever since. It's just a matter of getting her more playing time. She gets out there and she has a good basketball IQ. She's a good defender. She's just got to get her confidence back with her back-to-the-basket moves, because she actually has pretty good moves down there."

Celina played in all 31 games last season for a 17-14 squad that finished fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference. This year, she is one of three seniors on the squad, along with forward/center Ashley Hummel and forward/center Kezia Martin, the older sister of preseason all-conference first team forward Nicole Martin. 

In an odd twist, Celina may have to guard her younger sister Jayde a few days after Thanksgiving. SIU got into a tournament at the South Point Hotel Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, and drew Hartford the day after Thanksgiving and Arizona State the next day. In the two years her sister, Morgan, was at Illinois State, Celina missed one because of the stress fracture and then didn't get to play her in 2017-18 when Morgan redshirted. 

"It's hilarious because this opportunity would not have happened if we didn't randomly get into this tournament," Celina said. "I was injured two years ago, and we just find it completely hilarious that me and Morgan were in the same conference for two years and never got the chance to play against each other due to injury but now I get to play against my younger sister." 

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On Twitter: @THefferman


Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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