Collinsville High School senior Emondre Rickman has verbally committed to play basketball for Indiana State University next season.
The 6 foot 8 inch center committed to the Missouri Valley Conference school during a campus visit Saturday, said Darin Lee, CHS Athletic Director and Head Basketball coach. Rickman was also scheduled to visit Valley rival Bradley and Western Illinois University.
Indiana State was one of the first schools to recruit Rickman. Even before colleges can make official contact, the players notice which coaches are at practices and games, Lee said.
Rickman was also comfortable with the Sycamore coaching staff, Lee said.
“The relationship the assistant coaches build with the players is important,” Lee said.
The athletic big man started slow last season but improved in Southwestern Conference play and was named second-team All-Conference. Rickman’s 40 blocks in SWC play was tops in the league by 12. He blocked 80 shots on the season while averaging 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds.
But Rickman’s potential, more than his numbers, earned him a scholarship offer from a school in the Missouri Valley, which is consistently one of the best mid-major conferences in the country.
“He’s a big guy that can run,” Lee said. “That’s what the colleges look for; guys who are long and can run and can play above the rim. And he can play way above the rim.”
Indiana State finished 23-10 and second in the Missouri Valley last season. The Sycamores lost the conference championship game to then undefeated and second-ranked Wichita State. Arkansas knocked off the Sycamores in the first round of the NIT.
Although Rickman has improved his turn-around jumper over the summer, his defense and rebounding are his strengths. Lee said he’ll be expected to average 9-10 rebounds per game this season.
“That’s a lot of rebounds, but he can do it,” Lee said. “He can be a dominate defensive rebounder.”
Often facing double and triple teams, Rickman’s 2013-2014 point total did not reflect his offensive contribution to the Kahoks, Lee said. His presence and hard work allowed the guards to get open shots.
Rickman has improved tremendously since his freshman year, Lee said, especially his defense, but he still needs to improve his shooting, especially from the foul line.
“He’s going to get fouled a lot,” Lee said. “He needs to make his free throws.”
Rickman shot 65.2 percent from the charity stripe last season, making 30 of 46 attempts.
The last Kahok basketball player to sign with a Division I university out of high school was Troy Linbeck, a 2002 graduate who played four years at the University of Central Florida.