NORMAL — Rey Idowu and Demontay Dixon likely won't be starters for Illinois State's basketball team as freshmen next fall.

However, the opportunity figures to be there for them in 2019.

ISU coach Dan Muller announced Thursday the signings of Idowu, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound power forward from Tampa, Fla., and Dixon, a 6-9, 190-pound forward from Spring Hill, Tenn., to national letters of intent during the one-week fall signing period that began Wednesday.

"We wanted to get size and length," said Muller. "We needed a guy who could guard and play the 5 (center position) when needed, which Rey can. That doesn't mean he can't play other positions because he can.

"We graduate so much next year with Phil (Fayne) and Daouda (Ndiaye) in that class, we needed guys to be in here next year to hopefully help and take the reins after that."

ISU assistant coach Brian "Penny" Collins was recruiting Idowu and Dixon while an assistant coach at East Tennessee State in the spring. Collins joined Muller's staff in the summer and the Redbirds began to show strong interest in both. 

Idowu graduated from high school last spring and is playing this season for Clearwater (Fla.) Academy International. He averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds last season for Holy Trinity High School in Melbourne, Fla.

"Rey is just a physical player. He can move his feet, and he has a 7-4 wingspan or something like that," said Muller. "He rebounds it well and has good hands. He does come in with a college-ready body.

"We recruit a lot of kids who need to put weight on, and that's OK, but if you get a kid athletic enough with the way we play who has the weight ... "

Dixon averaged almost 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots last season for Summit, which posted a 23-7 record. He was an all-District 11AAA selection.

"He's a pretty versatile forward," said Muller. "He has great ball skill. He has to work on his shooting, but he is a capable shooter. But his special skill is his ability to move his feet and his ball skill at his size."

The Redbirds could add another player in December if 6-4 guard Zach Copeland completes a course for his associate degree.

Copeland signed with ISU in the spring after averaging 18.7 points and shooting 47.7 percent from 3-point range for City College of San Francisco last season. However, Copeland didn't earn his associate degree to gain his eligibility at ISU for this season.

If Copeland obtains his associate degree in December, he could sign a financial aid agreement and begin practicing with ISU later in the month while starting classes in January. Players only can sign a national letter of intent one time.

However, Copeland would not be eligible to play this season for ISU and would have two years of eligibility beginning next fall. 

The Redbirds already have a head start on the Class of 2019 as Bloomington High School junior forward Chris Payton made a verbal commitment in August. Payton will be able to sign a year from now.

Follow Jim Benson on Twitter: @Pg_Benson