NORMAL — Versatility and athleticism are important qualities that Dan Muller looks for during recruiting. The Illinois State basketball coach believes his program added two players who fit those criteria Wednesday.
Muller announced 6-foot-8, 195-pound forward Andre Washington from Fort Worth, Texas, and 6-3, 170-pound guard Madison Williams from Augusta, Ga., have signed national letters of intent. They will join ISU next fall.
"Now we're in a position to recruit and be a little more picky on high school kids and growing and developing them," said Muller. While stressing the pair needs to add weight, the coach added "they both have unbelievable potential. They really fit into our culture."
Washington averaged 22 points and nine rebounds as a junior at Arlington Heights High School, earning Class 5A all-District 7 first-team honors. He played for the Marcus Smart YGC36 Elite AAU program, averaging 10.2 points and 11.4 rebounds.
"Andre is really long, very athletic and his skill level is much higher than I knew when we first offered him," said Muller. "He's good with the ball, has great feet defensively and really has a high motor and is a high-level rebounder.
"He has a nice stroke and shoots easy from the 3-point line. He easily could guard at least four positions."
Williams, who will play this season for the Academy of Richmond County, averaged 15 points as a junior at Augusta Christian and was named to the all-region team. He was on the Team Power AAU program.
"Madison is a big-time athlete, a high, high level athlete," said Muller. "He elevates and shoots it really high and has a big-time stroke. Right now he has enough ball skills to play the point, he's just not a point guard. We'll develop his ball skills and mindset to play both (guard) positions."
ISU still has one open scholarship for the 2016-17 season. Muller said "every option is open" whether it be a high school or junior college player or a transfer. While landing a wing player with size is something ISU would prefer, that could change, according to the coach.
"I think we have flexibility with our roster to do almost anything if we want to," he said.
Hein, Harvey to redshirt: Muller also announced freshmen Matt Hein, a 6-3 guard, and Elvis Harvey, a 6-8 forward, will redshirt this season to preserve a year of eligibility. They can travel with the Redbirds and will be on the bench for Friday's opener at San Diego State.
"Matt has got to gain some strength and continue to improve his ball skills. He's a really good passer and shoots it," said Muller. "Elvis physically is very strong. His is more consistency with his shooting and skill level."
Hein and Harvey will practice with the team, but also have skill workouts outside of practice and on game days.
"Weight room strength is the major thing and will allow me to basically develop more," said the 185-pound Hein. "I feel I've got the skills to perform, but this extra year will allow me to perform better at this level."
Harvey didn't play basketball until high school in Florida.
"I started late. This will be extra time to get developed and learn from the guys in front of me," he said. "I think it's a good opportunity for me."