CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois University men's basketball head coach Barry Hinson added two more freshmen to the mix for next season, signing guard Deion Lavender of Alton, Ill. and forward Austin Weiher (pronounced Wire) of Dallas, Texas, on the first day of the 2014 Spring signing period.
Lavender (6-3, 180) played for 3A Marquette Catholic and averaged 26 points during his senior season, helping the team to a 21-7 finish.
"He has an opportunity to be a very special player," said Hinson, who enters his third year at the helm. "We wanted to make sure we signed athletic guards that had the skill level to put the ball in the basket, and he does."
Hinson said Lavender was present on a recruiting trip to Southern for the sold-out game on March 1 versus Illinois State, and that game impacted his decision to sign with the Salukis.
"With the excitement that's now surrounding this program, you bring a kid in and he's sitting there looking at a sold-out crowd, how could you say `no' to SIU Basketball?" Hinson asked. "He saw that the future is bright for the Salukis."
Weiher (6-8, 210), a native of Seattle, Wash., played two seasons at prep school Creating Young Minds Academy in Texas and averaged more than 25 points per game as a senior.
"He comes from a very intense and discipline-oriented prep school," Hinson said. "He has a lot of room for improvement, he knows that, but he has a solid foundation. His strengths are our liabilities. He has length, size and explosiveness. He has to improve with his lower body and lower core."
In addition to Lavender and Weiher, the Salukis signed St. Louis-area freshman guards Armon Fletcher and Chaz Glotta, plus freshman forward Jordan Caroline of Montverde (Fla.) Academy last fall. Including redshirt freshman K.C Goodwin, SIU will have six freshmen on next year's roster.
"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." The Salukis lost six scholarship players off last season's 14-19 team, including the team's leading scorer, rebounder and assist-man in senior Desmar Jackson. The Salukis also lose seniors Davante Drinkard and Bronson Verhines, plus junior Mike Balogun and sophomores Marcus Fillyaw and Hunter Gibson, who are expected to transfer.
Follow WPSD Sports on Facebook by clicking here. Follow WPSD Twitter on Facebook by clicking here.
100 Television Lane
Paducah, KY 42003