On to the next level: Daniel Westbrook signs to play collegiate basketball

Published 4:39 pm Monday, May 6, 2024

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During the Spring semester, high school seniors see their lifelong dreams come true in a multitude of different ways. On Monday, Springwood star athlete Daniel Westbrook saw his dream come true with his friends and family in attendance. 

Westbrook has been a star basketball player at Springwood for several years. Now, he is taking his talents to the next level as he signed to play basketball at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina. 

“For me, it’s everything because this is what I’ve always wanted to do,” Westbrook said. “There hasn’t really been another option. I knew I’d want to play as much as I could, and it’s everything. The hard work is paying off and the commitment and it means everything to me.” 

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Standing at six-foot-three with athleticism to spare, Westbrook was bound to find himself playing basketball at the collegiate level. It came down to fit for Westbrook. 

Westbrook chose Pfeiffer because it had a small-town feel similar to the one he grew up in at Springwood. Westbrook also built a strong relationship with assistant coach Ryan Lundvall and the rest of Pfeiffer’s coaching staff. 

“The area felt really homey and cozy because it was more of a small town like I’m used to,” Westbrook said. “Coach Ryan, he’s a young coach, me and him really connected well. He’s really relatable. He had played at Pfeiffer just a few years ago, and he told me what it’s all about. I can relate to them really easily.” 

The Westbrook name has left quite a legacy at Springwood. Daniel’s brother Eli was also a star basketball player and signed to swim at Eastern Illinois a little more than a year prior. The two Westbrooks played alongside each other and both left a lasting impression on the school. 

Coach Lisa Sampson had the privilege of coaching both Daniel and Eli on the hardwood. Daniel gives Sampson a lot of credit for developing him into the athlete that he is today. 

“I started out here when I was in sixth grade. Obviously, you’re on JV developing and learning, and everybody is uplifting you,” Westbrook said. “Once coach Lisa got here, she really put us in the gym, got us to work and got us recruited early. She really helped us out that way.” 

Westbrook’s senior season with the Wildcats was one for the books. Westbrook averaged 17 points, nine rebounds and three steals per game. The Wildcats finished with a regular season record of 20-4. 

Springwood was one of the most dominant AISA teams in 2023-24, and Westbrook was a key part of the team’s success as he posted career numbers and led the way for the Wildcats to get upsets against their biggest rivals. 

“I thought this was my best year, and I’m really proud of our record,” Westbrook said. “That’s what I’m most proud of, beating Glenwood twice [and] beating Lee-Scott. I had never done that on varsity.” 

Most high school seniors are just excited to make it to the next level, but Westbrook is already setting lofty goals for himself. 

Westbrook plans to put in the work and crack Pfeiffer’s starting lineup as a freshman and eventually become one of the best players in the conference. 

“As a freshman, I’m hoping to get into the starting lineup,” Westbrook said. “Once I get there, I hope to be one of the better players. I want to be a starter in college, make all-conference teams, put up good stats and win.” 

Westbrook’s size and athleticism make him a hard player to miss at any Springwood basketball game, but his work ethic set him apart from other athletes. 

Westbrook fell in love with the grind as a senior. Westbrook played basketball just about year-round and got extra work in every chance he could. 

“I love the work. I love it,” Westbrook said. “That’s something that I just love to do. I love the process. When Pfeiffer gets me, they’re going to have someone that works hard, knows how to play the game, I’m coachable [and] I’m going to be in the weight room and gym every day. They can definitely bet on me.”