By Joe Henricksen
This time of the year in the basketball recruiting world we constantly see the "recruiting steal" label being tossed around. Well, Shaun Pratl to Eastern Illinois is just that -- and then some.
The City/Suburban Hoops Report has labeled the Richards star as one of the most overlooked and underrated players in the Class of 2009. After a somewhat frustrating recruiting process, the 6-8 post player committed to Eastern Illinois on Tuesday night in what truly is a recruiting steal for coach Mike Miller and his staff. Assistant coach Chad Altadonna deserves quite a bit of credit in helping the Panthers land Pratl. It was Altadonna that made the trek to the Richards-Argo football game a while back and stayed in the rain to watch Pratl on the gridiron, something that certainly impressed the Pratl family. Eastern Illinois had one scholarship to give this November and hit a home run.
Pratl, the No. 17 ranked player in the Hoops Report's Class of 2009 rankings, is an athletic big man who can run the floor, finish with a dunk, as well as face-up and knock down the perimeter jumper. He will also go inside and mix it up. He has the frame to add plenty of weight and strength.
For months the question was whether Pratl would be playing college football or basketball. Both Indiana State and Illinois State offered scholarships last May. However, Pratl was still unsure at that time just what sport he would pursue. A couple of months ago Pratl officially decided it would be basketball in college. However, by that time both Missouri Valley schools had commitments from other players.
Eastern Illinois, Saint Louis and Boston University all offered Pratl in recent weeks, with schools like Missouri State, Murray State and Wright State all showing degrees of interest. Pratl just returned from a visit to Boston prior to ending the recruiting process with the commitment to Eastern Illinois.
Pratl, who helped lead Richards to the Class 4A state championship last March, becomes the first true in-state signature recruit for Miller and the Panthers.