NORMAL -- Illinois State's basketball future might not have gotten much bigger Wednesday.
However, Coach Tim Jankovich definitely believes the future got better.
The Redbirds announced three guards signed national letters of intent on the first day of the one-week fall period. The trio -- 5-foot-9 Nic Moore of Warsaw, Ind.; 6-3 Johnny Hill of Glenbard East High School; and 6-4 Nick Zeisloft of Lyons Township in LaGrange -- will join the Redbirds next fall for the 2011-12 season.
"We felt like we had big holes to fill with Austin (Hill) and Alex (Rubin) leaving," said Jankovich. "That was our No. 1 priority, setting out to get an outstanding young guard crew."
Moore already is a combination guard who can play the point or off-guard spots. Jankovich envisions the 170-pound Hill also being able to slide over to the point, while Zeisloft is a long-range shooter.
"All are very different, but we loved them all individually," said Jankovich. "Once it all came together as a recruiting class we loved them even more collectively because we think they'll really be able to complement each other."
Moore, a three-star Rivals recruit, helped Warsaw take second place in the state tournament in Indiana's largest class. He averaged almost 21 points per game with five assists, four rebounds and three steals.
"He's the type of player we've had before who always seem to have success in our program," said Jankovich. "He can play both guard positions and is an outstanding shooter and scorer, but also is a natural playmaker."
Hill averaged 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3.5 steals last season as Glenbard East advanced to the Class 4A sectional championship. He was a fourth-team All-State choice by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
"He's not thought as a point guard yet, but watching him this summer I honestly think he's another prototype combo guard who could play multiple positions for us," said Jankovich. "He's very quick and bouncy and a very difficult guy to keep in front of you."
Jankovich didn't see Zeisloft until late in the summer recruiting process. Zeisloft starred for the AAU Full Package Athletics after averaging 11.5 points while shooting 41 percent on 3-pointers for Lyons, which reached the Class 4A sectional finals.
"One of our top priorities, if not our top priority, was to try and find the best pure shooter we could. Nick was our top choice," said Jankovich. "He has a great stroke and has outstanding size for a guard. He fills a very important need."
Moore, Hill and Zeisloft played on high school teams last season that went a combined 76-7.
"It may be the best three-team records I've ever seen in all my years of coaching in terms of new recruits," said Jankovich. "It's a huge bonus for us. There's a lot to be said for that. All are coming from great programs and tremendous backgrounds."
Barring anyone leaving, ISU has one more scholarship to fill the next two seasons. The Redbirds' next target is a post player. They could sign one in the spring if the right player becomes available, said Jankovich. That could come from junior college, high school or transfer, he added.
After spending much of his first 3½ years with ISU on the recruiting trail, Jankovich and his staff can breathe a little easier -- for a moment, anyway.
"It's refreshing for us not to be in such a need category in recruiting and at the same time exciting because there are a lot of guys here for a long period of time," he said. "That's truly how you build a program."