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Marion's Jackson Connor Commits To Vols

  • Marion's Jackson Connor has committed to the John A. Logan College men's basketball team.

    Marion's Jackson Connor has committed to the John A. Logan College men's basketball team.
    MARION REPUBLICAN FILE PHOTO

 
By Spyder Dann mdann@dailyregister.com
updated: 5/23/2020 10:02 AM

One of the premier players in southern Illinois has committed to one of the premier colleges in southern Illinois.
Marion's Jackson Connor -- the reigning Southern Illinoisan Player Of The Year -- committed to John A. Logan College Friday, spurning such Division I schools like Missouri State, Idaho, SIU-Edwardsville, Eastern Illinois and Austin Peay.
Connor said in his decision to attend John A. Logan that having one of the top college basketball programs in his backyard was to good of an opportunity to pass up.
"Not a lot of people are fortunate to have a school or a program like we have here in southern Illinois. From a visibility standpoint and the players they have brought in, you know that coach (Kyle) Smithpeters and his staff doing a good job of developing players. It's certainly something I am looking forward to."
John A. Logan head coach Kyle Smithpeters is excited about the potential that Connor brings to the table.
"I'm extremely excited about Jackson," Smithpeters said. "I've watched his mature and his skill set grow and there is still a lot of potential to be had. His body is very impressive and I think once get gets around a lot more really good players, it will enhance his abilities has a person and as a player.
"He's a player that time and time again, has risen to the occasion of putting his team on his back and getting wins. I like a winner. Coach (Gus) Gillespie has done a fabulous job of teaching and instruction his players."
Connor noted that the recent Corona virus has made his recruiting difficult, especially in regards to taking visits. However, being able to attend JALC was a decision he was comfortable with.
"I'm familiar with not only the program, but the coaching staff and some of the players. After the while corona deal, I had some extra time to evaluate and make the best decision. As time kept going on and I had to start thinking about things, it was clear to me that going to Logan going to be a really good decision and I was comfortable committing."
Connor, a 6-foot-6, 205-pound senior, set the school scoring record at Marion, eclipsing the mark set by JALC athletic director Greg Starrick with 2,018 points. Connor averaged 23.3 points this season and scored a game-high 22 points in the season-ending sectional loss to defending state champion East St. Louis. He also scored a career-high 44 points in a February 25th win over Effingham.
In addition to leading Marion to a 22-12 record this past season, Connor averaged 5.8 rebound and shot 47 percent from the field.
Connor closes out his prep career after being named South Seven All-Conference the last three years and was a three-time All-South selection. He was named to the Associated Press Class 3A Second Team and finished 10th overall in the Illinois Mr. Basketball voting.
Connor joins another Southern Illinoisan Player Of The Year to pick the Vols straight out of high school in Carbondale's Devontavius Payne. After his two years at JALC, Payne had a successful two-year career at East Tennessee State University.
Connor also joins southern Illinois natives like former Marion standout and recent Vols gradate Justin Saddoris, Agape Christian's Will Keller (now at SIU), along with Du Quoin's Connor Wheeler and Herrin's Justin Lukens.
Connor is also the third recruit for JALC this offseason, joining Bowling Green (Ky.) Dre Boyd and Pinckneyville's Dawson Yates.

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.