Simeon senior forward Messiah Jones ended his recruitment by committing to Drake on Sunday night.
One of the more underappreciated players in Illinois last season, the 6-foot-5 Jones became a priority recruit for mid-major programs this summer after a strong run on the grassroots circuit.
As a junior at Simeon, Jones averaged 9.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, helping the Wolverines advance to the Class 4A state title game after winning a city championship.
Playing for a talented — but undersized — team at Simeon last season, Jones was often tasked with defending and rebounding against bigger and stronger players. A plus athlete who performed admirably in a jack-of-all-trades role for the Wolverines, Jones was one of the most versatile frontcourt players in the area last season.
The commitment for Jones is a solid grab for Drake. It's also a major statement from new Bulldog head coach Niko Medved.
Always an aggressive recruiter in the Land of Lincoln dating back to his time coaching at Furman, Medved is already making his presence felt in Illinois with the Bulldogs. With Jones committed, and another commitment from Danville guard Kendale Moore, Medved and his staff at Drake have already secured commitments from two talented Illinois seniors so far this fall.
Medved and his staff are hoping that the commitment of Jones also nets them a potential "package deal" as Drake is aggressively recruiting Jones' teammate and Simeon senior point guard Xavier Pinson. Taking an official visit to Drake with Jones last month, Pinson is still deciding on his future school as he just finished up an official visit to Kent State.
During his time at Furman, Medved successfully recruited Hinsdale Central's Matt Rafferty to his program, as the former all-area forward became a solid contributor for the Paladins. So it makes sense that Medved would continue to tap into his emerging Illinois pipeline after taking the job at Drake.
If Medved could get Chicago-area kids to go to Greenville, South Carolina, then he should have no problems getting them to come to his much closer new home in Des Moines.