The Dawgs added five players to a team that made a miraculous run to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinals.
Austin Weiher, Deion Lavender, Chaz Glotta, Jordan Caroline and Armon Fletcher will all represent the maroon and white of the Salukis in the Fall 2014 season.
Director of Athletics Mario Moccia said he doesn’t follow the recruits closely, but said he has heard good things about them from those around the team.
“From what I understand from the coaching staff, they certainly fill some of our needs. They certainly have all had success in their background,” Moccia said. “They looked to be in a pretty good caliber from an athletic and academic standpoint.”
SIU’s most recent signees were Weiher, a 6-foot-8-inch forward from Creating Young Minds Academy in Irving, Texas, and Lavender, a guard from Marquette Catholic High School in Alton.
Weiher’s coach, Mathis Crowder, said Weiher’s skills will fit with the college game and the transition should be easy for him.
“[He’s] one of the best kids I’ve ever coached,” Crowder said.
Crowder said Weiher once took many 3-pointers but adjusted his game to attack the basket and have a better mid-range game.
Weiher averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds per game for the Yellow Jackets this season.
Crowder said Weiher is a high-character kid who is very laid-back. He said whenever they would watch college basketball games, Weiher would want to stop watching after halftime, since he said he had learned all he needed to about the teams in the first 10 minutes.
Lavender averaged 26 points per game his senior season while his team finished 21-7. Lavender, along with Fort Zumwalt North guard Chaz Glotta, will try to help the Saluki backcourt since junior Mike Balogun and sophomore Marcus Fillyaw are transferring.
Glotta, from O’Fallon, Mo., scored 2,360 points in his high school career and averaged 28 points per game his senior season. Glotta’s coach was his father, Charles Glotta.
Charles said Chaz is already used to the competition of being a Division I athlete.
“He’s been a varsity starter since his freshman year,” Charles said. “He put 28 up in his first game as a freshman.”
With two guards leaving, it will be up to Chaz and returning starters, sophomore Anthony Beane and freshman Tyler Smithpeters, to run the offense.
Chaz said he understands the decision coach Barry Hinson had to make in advising the two players to transfer.
“I know that everything is in coach Hinson’s best interest, so I know he’s doing the best thing for the team,” Chaz said.
Chaz played with the St. Louis Eagles in 2013 where he was the team’s third-leading scorer. Chaz played with another SIU recruit on the Eagles, Jordan Caroline.
Caroline is from Champaign but played high school basketball at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla. Caroline helped lead Montverde in beating Oak Hill (Va.) Academy 71-62 for the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National Tournament Championship on April 4. It was the team’s second straight national title.
Caroline verbally committed to the Salukis in July 2013 and signed in November, along with Glotta and Edwardsville High School standout Armon Fletcher.
Fletcher is already familiar with the atmosphere of SIU Arena. Fletcher and the Tigers won this year’s Carbondale Holiday Tournament. Fletcher scored 15 points and added six rebounds as his team fell to Stevenson High School in this season’s third-place game of the 4A State Championship.
Hinson said in a Saluki Athletics press release that he is thinking of the long-term success of the team, and that the future is bright for the Salukis.
“I’m not so sure we won’t be the youngest team in Division I basketball next year,” Hinson said. “The success of this conference has always come down to fourth- and fifth-year seniors. When you sign freshmen, that is the key to success at the mid-major level. I don’t want to be a quick fix. I want longevity.”
Tyler Dixon can be reached at [email protected] or @tdixon_DE on Twitter.