NORMAL — Another scoring option for Illinois State’s backcourt officially joined the Redbirds on Thursday as Zach Lofton’s signed national letter of intent arrived.
The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 16.6 points this past season as a freshman at San Jacinto (Texas) Community College. Lofton, who will have three years of eligibility with ISU, shot 34.8 percent from 3-point range (49 of 141) and 47.3 percent overall from the field as well as 75.7 percent at the line.
“He can do some things with the ball,” said ISU coach Dan Muller. “He has good ball skills, can shoot it and is a good athlete. We have some smaller guards in our program, and he gives us some size and skill.”
Lofton, who is a native of St. Paul, Minn., also averaged 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists for San Jacinto while earning all-Region XIV second-team honors. He helped his Columbia Heights High School team reach the Class 3A Minnesota state championship game in 2011 before attending Quakerdale (Iowa) Prep School for a year.
“He is more of a wing, but he can really handle it,” said Muller, who said ISU has recruited Lofton for months. “He played point guard for his junior college. Right now we have a bunch of really good guards who can play a lot of positions.”
Lofton is the third junior college player to sign with the Redbirds this week. Muller announced 5-10 guard Bobby Hunter from Santa Fe (Fla.) College and 6-9 power forward Michael Middlebrooks of North Idaho College had signed on Wednesday, which was the first day of the spring signing period.
Hunter, who was second in the nation among juco players with a 25.2 scoring average, and Lofton could fill some of the scoring left vacant by the graduation of Tyler Brown, who paced the Redbirds with 18.1 points per game and also made a team-high 80 3-point baskets.
The Redbirds return two starters in the backcourt — Bryant Allen and Johnny Hill — along with Kaza Keane and Nick Zeisloft from this season’s 18-15 squad. ISU also signed two high school guards last fall in Paris Lee of Proviso East and Tony Wills of Indianapolis.
Muller and his staff have two scholarships still available in the spring signing period, which ends May 15. Among the players ISU remains active with is 6-6, 225-pound forward MiKyle McIntosh, a Canadian who played this past season for Jackson (Ky.) 22 Feet Academy.
McIntosh and Keane played on an AAU team together in Canada. McIntosh attended a Redbird game in January with his coach, Ryan Schmidt.