Annie Stritzel averaged 24 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 3.8 steals in leading Nazareth to a runner-up finish in the Class 3A state playoffs in 2017. (Alexa Rogals/Staff Photographer)

My cell phone buzzed during a typically hectic deadline day last week. I knew a text was waiting for me. The smile it elicited from me after reading it was gravy.

Ten words encapsulating the realization of a dream appeared on the screen: Annie verbally committed to Harvard today. Thrilled is an understatement!

Nazareth Academy girls basketball coach Ed Stritzel, was notifying me that his daughter and the Roadrunners’ top player, Annie, had chosen Harvard for her last stop as a student-athlete.

Talk about a recruiting coup for the Crimson! Cambridge, Massachusetts just picked up a big-time player.

Only a junior, Stritzel had about 30 offers but ultimately chose Harvard over DePaul, Columbia and Illinois State.

 “I picked Harvard because of the opportunities both the academics and basketball will provide me,” Stritzel said. “It’s just the best fit for me. I can’t begin to say how relieved I am to have made the decision to go to Harvard. It gives me the opportunity to play with no pressure and focus on my high school senior season.”

A stress-free Stritzel is a scary thought for her opponents next season.

She averaged 24 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 3.8 steals in leading Nazareth to a runner-up finish in the Class 3A state playoffs during the 2017-2018 season. The Roadrunners (33-1) had the best season in program history, but lost to Peoria Richwoods 55-46 in the Class 3A state final.

While the team will miss the contributions of seniors Alyssa Geary and Marissa Metz next season, Stritzel ensures Nazareth will remain highly competitive.

“I am so excited to get back with my high school team,” she said. “We want to finish what we left out there in the state championship. It’s special to share this with my dad. He is a phenomenal coach who is always there to support and guide me.

“I love the spot I am in and I love the environment at Nazareth,” she added. “Nazareth is a great school which has definitely prepared me for my next four years at Harvard.”

Stritzel also excels academically with a 4.3 GPA and 29 on her ACT.

As the high school sports year winds down, I always enjoy seeing the lists and photos of student-athletes from schools like Riverside-Brookfield, Lyons Township, Fenwick and Nazareth signing their National Letter of Intent to play college sports. In many instances, they represent the best and the brightest from the Class of 2018.

That certainly applies to Stritzel as a Class of 2019 standout.

While it was very cool to hear about her college choice, I’m more excited about getting to watch Annie play one more season.