By Joe Henricksen
Western Michigan has made a big dent in recruiting the Chicago area this month. And St. Rita's A.J. Avery is the latest to offer coach Steve Hawkins a commitment as the 6-7 forward gave Hawkins and the Broncos a Halloween commitment today.
In addition to Avery's commitment, Western Michigan will sign Warren big man Darius Paul and Lake Forest Academy athlete Charles Harris in November.
Avery, who made two visits to Western Michigan's Kalamazoo campus this fall, appreciated the comfort level he felt.
"The entire team, coaching staff and the administrative and academic advisors all made me feel comfortable," said Avery. "The campus is nice and it's pretty close to home. Plus, there is a chance for me to play early since they are graduating their starting 4-man."
Avery suffered an injury last season and only played in three games for coach Gary DeCesare's Mustangs. According to DeCesare, the injury and sitting out the majority of the season slowed the recruiting process down. But the veteran coach believes Avery has found an ideal fit.
"They [Western Michigan] fell in love with A.J., and it's a great choice for him," says DeCesare. "I really do think there are going to be some college coaches who will see him this season and say, 'Why didn't we recruit him?' But that's how recruiting goes."
Avery's size, length and versatility will be a plus, according to DeCesare.
"He can do so many different things for you," DeCesare points out. "He can go inside, step out, guard multiple positions and that fits perfectly in the MAC [Mid-American Conference]. Western Michigan did a really nice job recruiting in this class."
Western Michigan, which finished 21-13 a year ago, also has three other Illinois products on its roster: Bloomington Central Catholic's Hayden Hoerdemann, who is a freshman guard, sophomore guardDavid Brown of Rockton-Hononegah and Tim Brennan of Lincoln Park.