BLOOMINGTON — Two players with strong Illinois Wesleyan ties, three former Pantagraph All-Area selections and some needed height are all part of Titan basketball coach Ron Rose’s recruiting class.
“A couple of the priorities in this class were we needed to bring in size, and we really wanted to put a premium on foot speed,” Rose said. “This class certainly accomplishes those goals. The potential of this group is really high.”
Rose’s nine-man class features eight high school players and one Division I transfer, former University High standout Keondre Schumacher.
The son of IWU track and field coach Chris Schumacher, Keondre scored 27 points in nine games last season for Winthrop. He will have three seasons of eligibility at IWU.
“I’ve known Keondre for a long time. I coached him on the same elementary school team as my son Ryan,” Rose said. “He put in hours and hours of work at Shirk Center in his junior high and high school years. We’re excited he’s decided to come home.”
The 6-foot Schumacher averaged 17.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists and was a second team Class 3A all-state selection as a senior at U High. He redshirted his first season at Winthrop.
“He will be as fast as anybody at our level,” said Rose. “He’s a combo guard, but what jumps off the page is how he shoots the ball and his ability to score.”
Rose also tapped into the Intercity for Central Catholic’s Luke Yoder and Tommy Nelson. Yoder is the son of Rose’s close friend and IWU roommate Ron Yoder.
“I’ve known Luke his entire life. It’s been fun to watch his development into the outstanding player he is,” Rose said. “He has a tremendous feel for the game, which is so important from the point guard position.”
Yoder averaged 16.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists for Central Catholic while earning second team Class 2A all-state honors. He is expected to contend for playing time as a freshman in support of returning point guard Grant Wolfe.
The 6-5 Nelson joined Yoder on the All-Area team and was a third team all-stater after averages of 18.2 points and 9.2 rebounds.
“Tommy had a great senior year,” said Rose. “He played himself into being a college basketball player. What impressed us about Tommy is his motor. He’s so active running the floor and on the offensive glass.”
IWU added inside assistance in 6-8 Cole Khoury of Columbia, 6-6 Cody Mitchell of St. Charles East and 6-8 Brendan Smith of St. Francis Borgia High School in Washington, Mo.
Khoury shot 62 percent from the field as a senior with marks of 12.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
“Cole is an impressive athlete. He has size and strength, and he’s just growing into his body now,” Rose said. “After a year or two in a college strength program, he’s going to really be a physical force at our level. He runs tremendously well and has an eagerness to learn.”
Mitchell could play inside or on the wing for the Titans. He scored 13.8 points and grabbed 8.6 rebounds as a prep senior. His brother, Zach, is on the Wesleyan football team.
“He’s got guard skills for a guy who is 6-6. He moves like a perimeter guy,” said Rose. “He handles the ball really well and is a terrific athlete. He allows you to play different types of lineups.”
Smith contributed 9.0 points and 7.1 rebounds in his final prep season.
“Brendan’s got good size, and he’s not afraid to mix it up inside,” Rose said. “The key for him is adjusting to the physical play in college and continuing to develop in the weight room.”
The Titans also have added guards Sam Painter of Litchfield, Lucas Heflen of St. Charles North and Ryan Verhulst of Arlington Heights Hersey.
Painter is a 6-3 shooting guard who averaged 19 points and seven rebounds to earn third team 2A all-state honors.
“Sam is an athletic wing who is really versatile,” said Rose. “He gets to the basket exceptionally well, and he also can shoot it. He could play all three perimeter spots. As he learns and adjusts to this level, he could really develop into a lockdown defender.”
Heflen and Verhulst are both 6-3 as well.
“We saw Lucas the first time at our Titan Shootout in June last year, and really liked how he played. He really blossomed the last month of his senior year,” Rose said. “Ryan loves to play and is a knockdown shooter.”