NORMAL — Keondre Schumacher's slight stature might have worried some Division I schools. However, the University High School senior point guard isn't bitter.
"I don't want to prove the other schools wrong, I want to prove Winthrop right," he said Tuesday.
When Winthrop University put on a full-court press, Schumacher decided he couldn't pass it up.
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Schumacher has announced he will sign a national letter of intent with the Division I Eagles in November. The Big South Conference school from Rock Hill, S.C., made a hectic late recruiting push for Schumacher that paid off.
Winthrop assistant coach Marty McGillan watched Schumacher during an open gym at U High after school on Sept. 15. That night, Schumacher said Eagles head coach Pat Kelsey called with a scholarship offer.
Five days later, Kelsey came to Normal and another open gym was scheduled. Schumacher and his parents, Chris and Amy, then flew to South Carolina for an official recruiting visit last Thursday.
"Right when I walked in the gym, the environment, even though there was no one in the stands, I just loved it," he said.
It was Schumacher's second official visit. He went to North Dakota two weekends ago. Schumacher was supposed to have visits at two other Division I schools, Cal-Poly and Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne, but canceled those.
The whirlwind recruitment by Winthrop even has Schumacher amazed.
"I never was contacted by them until two weeks ago," he said. "They told me they heard about me from another Chicago AAU team. I'm not even sure what coach told them."
Schumacher enjoyed a breakout junior season with U High last season when he averaged 16.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game and showed deep range while making 74 3-pointers. He was a unanimous selection to the all-Corn Belt Conference team after the Pioneers went 14-0 in the league, and he was selected to The Pantagraph All-Area Team.
After playing well this summer in AAU action with the Illinois Young & Restless, based out of Chicago, Schumacher still didn't get his first Division I offer until July 1.
U High coach Andrew McDowell believes Winthrop is "a great fit" for Schumacher.
"Their coach saw Keondre's ability to score the ball and make shots, and I think he's excited Keondre can do that at Winthrop," said McDowell. "Their coach has a system where the point guard can score."
The Eagles' leading scorer last season was 5-7 Keon Johnson, who will be a senior this season. Johnson averaged 18.7 points overall and 20.2 points in Big South games.
"Coach Kelsey is definitely a point guard coach," said Schumacher. "I watched Keon's highlights and that made me more excited."
NCAA rules prohibit Kelsey from commenting about recruits until they sign.
Schumacher wanted to wrap up the recruiting process before U High began its season. Practice begins Nov. 7.
"He's always been able to score, but this summer and so far in the fall he's been the leader for our program. He's matured a lot recently," said McDowell. "I think that's really important for him as a senior point guard for our program and a point guard in a Big South program."
Even though Winthrop loses Johnson after this season, Schumacher said he knows there are no guarantees of playing time in Division I and "you earn everything you get."
"I need to work on a lot of things (this season), but mostly getting into the paint and a bunch of finishing work around the rim and getting to the foul line," he said. "Last year I didn't get there enough, and I've definitely got to get stronger in the weight room."
Schumacher said he would like to get into coaching like his father, who is the head track and field coach at Illinois Wesleyan, and might major in communications.