NORMAL — Point guard was Illinois State's biggest recruiting need for the Class of 2019.
Watching DJ Horne brought back memories of a pretty good one that Redbird coach Dan Muller enjoyed having around.
The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Horne of Raleigh, N.C., signed a national letter of intent with ISU during a Friday ceremony at Trinity Christian School. Horne, ranked this summer as the No. 31 prospect in North Carolina, will be the Redbirds' only signing during the one-week fall period.
"He reminds me of Paris (Lee) in some ways," said Muller of the 2017 Missouri Valley Conference Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year. "He naturally gets deflections and guards and has great feet and he's physical. He wants to play defense, even in AAU."
Horne played at Cary High School last year and averaged 19 points, five assists and two rebounds per game while making the Triangle 6 All-Conference team. He transferred to Trinity Christian, which is located in Fayetteville, N.C., this school year.
"There's not a lot of pure point guards today. He's not one of those because he's a scoring point guard, but he's really quick," said Muller. "He guards and plays both ends of the court."
Horne also had scholarship offers from Saint Louis University, Northern Kentucky, Towson and UMass-Lowell. He made a recruiting visit in early September and accepted ISU's offer. Horne also attended the Redbirds' home exhibition game against Augustana on Nov. 3.
ISU will graduate its two primary ballhandlers, Keyshawn Evans and Milik Yarbrough, after this season. Elijah Clarance was in line for those duties, but left after his freshman season to turn professional in the summer.
That made it imperative for the Redbirds to get someone who could handle those responsibilities for the 2019-20 season.
"DJ is someone we saw in July (playing for his AAU team, Garner Road). We were on about five point guards, but he was someone I really liked right away and once you get to know him more you like him even more," said Muller.
"Offensively he can shoot it, and he's really good with the ball. He naturally has the ability to score and also is a very good passer, and yet he's not a selfish player but a team guy. He has an unbelievable family. There's really not much I don't like about DJ Horne."
ISU still has three available scholarships. Muller said he and his coaching staff will be searching for more point guard help, bigger wings and "you're always looking for good bigs." That combination could come from high school or junior college players or transfers.
The Redbirds have four transfers sitting out this season in forward Keith Fisher III and guards Jaycee Hillsman, Dedric Boyd and Lijah Donnelly along with forward Abdou Ndiaye, a freshman academic redshirt.