BLOOMINGTON — Illinois Wesleyan basketball coach Ron Rose says he might not be finished assembling his recruiting class.
Yet the list of high school standouts to commit to attending IWU thus far has Rose excited enough to declare “we think this could be as competitive of a group as we’ve brought in in my 11 years.”
Doug Wallen of Champaign Central, Effingham’s Grant Wolfe, Max Muller of Petersburg Porta, Farmington’s Eric Higgs, University High’s Jack Martin, Colin Cheaney of Batavia, Glenbard South’s Charlie Bair and Matt Giannakopoulos of Glenbrook South have committed to become Titans in the fall.
“The reality is you never know until the young men get here and adjust to college life,” Rose said. “But we couldn’t be more excited about the young men joining our program and what we believe they can add to our program.”
Wallen is the boys all-time leading scorer in Champaign-Urbana high school history. After spending his first three years at St. Thomas More and averaging 19.3 points and 9.8 rebounds as a junior, the 6-foot-4 Wallen transferred to Champaign Central and scored at a 14.2-point clip while grabbing 7.0 rebounds.
“I’ve watched Doug for a long time. I love his versatility,” Rose said. “He’s a terrific athlete and maybe as efficient of a player as we saw all season. He’s a strong kid and he uses it to his advantage. He’s a forward with the ability to play inside and out.”
Wolfe is a 6-foot point guard who scored 20.5 points per game for Effingham while also contributing 5.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds.
“Grant is a true point guard. He has a high motor and plays with great pace,” said Rose. “His best attribute is how he sees the floor and distributes the ball. But he’s got great ball skills and has the ability to score as well.”
The 6-5 Muller averaged 21.1 points and 8.1 rebounds for Porta.
“Max’s plus skill is his ability to shoot it. He’s a shooter with size,” Rose said. “He has a high basketball IQ and has competed at a high level. Max is more of a big wing with some ability to go inside.”
Farmington’s all-time leading scorer, the 6-foot Higgs scored 25.3 points per game as a senior.
“Eric mainly played off the ball this year because of his ability to score,” said Rose. “He has a terrific outside shot, but what impressed me was his quickness and court savvy.”
The 6-6 Bair is the younger brother of Illinois State tight end Billy Bair. Charlie Bair contributed averages of 16.6 points and 11.3 rebounds as a senior.
“Charlie is a blue-collar, hard-nosed player who can play either the four (power forward) or five (center),” Rose said. “He’s a fierce competitor who gives you everything he’s got all the time.”
A 6-3 guard, Cheaney averaged 14.3 points for Batavia.
“Colin is a late bloomer. He really started to blossom his senior year,” said Rose. “He has a terrific overall game. He can shoot the basketball and has good overall skills.”
Martin is another 6-3 guard. “Jack is a terrific athlete with a good overall skill set,” Rose said.
The IWU coach called the 6-5 Giannakopoulos “a wing with good size. He’s known as a shooter. But he can put it on the floor and create a little bit.”
On the possibility of adding to the recruiting class, Rose said, “I’m still working on a couple.”