By Joe Henricksen
The Eastern Illinois basketball program picked up another talented junior college prospect Wednesday as former Downers Grove South star Malcolm Herron, who played his JUCO ball at Western Texas, signed with the Panthers.
Meanwhile, the University of Northern Iowa landed promising big man prospect Chris Olivier. The 6-8, 240-poumd Olivier helped lead Seton Academy to a Class 2A state championship in 2009 as a junior and then put together a solid senior season. Olivier will head to the Missouri Valley Conference as a 4-man with size, bulk, skill and a craftiness around the basket.
Olivier spent this past season playing at Quakerdale Prep School in Iowa and was part of the school's first-ever prep basketball program. He averaged 15 points, 8.1 rebounds and over 3 blocks a game in 26 minutes of action this past season.
Herron joins another Chicago area product, former Marshall all-stater Darius Smith, in a recruiting class that should bolster coach Mike Miller's fortunes in Charleston. Champaign Centennial big man Josh Piper, a 6-8 face-up shooter, signed in April. The three state of Illinois products will be joined by junior college point guard Austin Akers of Olney Central College and 6-4 Trent Johnson of North Dakota State College of Science, who averaged 13.5 points a game this past season. Morris Woods, an Argo grad who played this past season at Moraine Valley Community College, signed with Eastern Illinois last fall and will have three years of eligibility remaining.
The 6-4, 205-pound Herron, who was a top 30 prospect in the Hoops Report's Class of 2009 rankings, will bring instant scoring ability to EIU. Herron is a big-bodied backcourt player who has the ability to knock down shots and put points on the board. As a freshman at Western Texas, Herron knocked down 45 percent of his shots from three-point range and averaged over 12 points a game. This past season Herron averaged 14 points a game.