By Joe Henricksen
Evansville, with former Illinois high school basketball legend Marty Simmons as head coach, has put in a lot of effort recruiting the state of Illinois. And the work has paid off in the Class of 2011 as Mundelein star Ryan Sawvell committed to the Purple Aces late Tuesday night.
"I was happy with the interest and the offers I had received from really a wide variety of schools, so I didn't see any point in waiting," says Sawvell.
Sawvell has been a City/Suburban Hoops Report favorite over the past couple of years and a mainstay in the top 25 player rankings. Although blessed with a solid skill level for a 4-man, the 6-8 Sawvell brings the type of energy and intangibles to the floor you can't teach. Sawvell gets up and down the floor so well for a player his size. He hustles, gets after it, competes, rebounds very well in space and out of his area with his above-average athleticism and uses that energy to thrive on second-chance scoring opportunities.
Sawvell, who plays with the Rising Stars on the AAU circuit, simply brings his lunch bucket to work every day. While he is active and a much better athlete than people realize, he can also bring some of that throwback style as well in terms of his competitiveness.
Offensively, Sawvell's back-to-the-basket game is still coming along, but he is a finisher who can also step out and knock down a shot and shoot it with a little range. His strength and weight will only improve as he gets on a college weight program.
Evansville, particularly assistant coach Chris Hollender, put in a ton of time on Sawvell from the beginning. Sawvell made two separate trips to the Evansville campus, with the last one coming this past spring and decided to end things before the July evaluation period, when the Hoops Report envisioned the interest in Sawvell to rise even more among mid-major programs. While a host of schools were involved with Sawvell in the recruiting process, including Loyola, Western Michigan, Illinois State, Central Michigan, Toledo and Valparaiso, he pulled the trigger Tuesday night.
"The coaching staff were just nice guys who like to make it fun but have a little of that blue-collar mentality," Sawvell pointed out. "Coach Simmons actually reminds me of my dad in some ways. I like the fanbase there as well, and I got along with the players who are young and are going to be around when I'm there."