ALTON – Shandon Boone was a member of Marquette Catholic's boys basketball team for just two years, arriving at the downtown Alton campus after two years attending CBC in St. Louis County.
Boone, though, made a huge impact as an Explorer, scoring more than 1,000 points in just two years as a member of the basketball team, averaging 19.2 points per game last season for a team that reached the Pickneyville Sectional semifinal, falling to a Breese Central team that reached the IHSA Class 2A final before losing to St. Joseph-Ogden.
It certainly attracted the attention of Avila University in Kansas City and Eagle coach Rodney Perry, who started recruiting Boone – and in a ceremony at Marquette's campus Wednesday afternoon, Boone signed a letter of intent to attend Avila, a NAIA Division I school which is a member of the Heart of America Conference, one of the toughest conferences of its type in the nation.
“I felt like it was a good fit,” Boone said following the ceremony. “I love the coach (Perry), I love the area; it's a nice area in Kansas City and it's not that far from home.”
Boone enjoyed the experience of being at Marquette following his two years at CBC. “I just had a great time over here,” Boone said. “Both were good schools, both had good coaches on both sides; I just felt like Marquette was a better fit for me.”
"I am really excited for Shandon,” Explorer coach Steve Medford said. “He's a high-character kid and he deserves all the success that comes his way; it's just kind of fitting for what he accomplished here in two years for him to go have the opportunity to play scholarship basketball. I think he's going to be great at that level.
“There's going to be a lot of athletes; that's going to be another bar raised for him, but I think Shandon's skill level, his skill set, he'll really excel at that level. I think he's going to be a real good basketball player. He'll have a chance to go in there right off the bat and play for Avila. We're excited about it.”
Boone came to Perry's attention through a college friend of Perry – none other than Eastern Illinois men's basketball coach Jay Spoonhour, the son of the late Saint Louis University coach Charlie Spoonhour, whom Perry played with when the two played together at then-Southwest Missouri State when Spoonhour coached the Bears before moving on to become the coach of the Billikens.
“(Spoonhour) was the first guy who told me about (Boone),” Perry said, “and then I talked to (Medford) about him as well. I went to come watch him and see him play.
“He provides a need for us that we actually need; we're losing our All-America point guard (Sedrick Johnson) who actually scored 2,000 points for us – first player in school history to do that, as well – and started for us all four years, so we feel Shandon's going to have an opportunity to come in and just take over the reins just where he left off.”
Perry believes Boone will “bring leadership, bring a guy who's going to make all his teammates better. That's the first and foremost thing; a guy who's going to be coachable, a guy who wants to learn and get better each and every day.”
Boone does realize he will need to make adjustments at the collegiate level to succeed. “I need to get physical,” Boone said. “I need to get faster and stronger; I need to adjust to the speed of college basketball. I'm very excited to improve my game and work to do what I love to do.”
Boone plans on majoring in biology at Avila with the goal of attending dental school after getting his undergraduate degree.