EDWARDSVILLE — Shawn Roundtree was his usual upbeat, jovial self Thursday morning.
But the senior point guard at Edwardsville High was feeling even better than he appeared after closing an extended recruiting process by signing with Missouri State, coached by former Wesclin High all-stater Paul Lusk.
"I feel like there's been a huge rock lifted off my back," said Roundtree, the News-Democrat's Class 3A-4A Player of the Year. "I'm real happy to get it over with. But it was a great process. I enjoyed every minute of it."
Roundtree averaged 17.3 points and eight assists for Edwardsville, which was 30-4 and placed fourth in the Class 4A state tournament. The 6-footer made 55 3-pointers and shot 85 percent from the free-throw line (159-for-187).
Roundtree, the son of Shawn Roundtree Sr. and Ida, selected Missouri State over Missouri-Kansas City and University of California-Davis. Indiana State, Navy and North Carolina-Asheville also were on Roundtree's short list.
"It was just a certain feeling I felt when I was on the visit (to Springfield)," Roundtree said. "Not to knock down any other schools, but I just felt a certain type of comfort. I could see myself going to school there and playing in that program."
Darius Austin, a 6-7 senior at Cahokia, has signed with Missouri-Kansas City and was doing his level best to convince Roundtree to join him.
"I haven't talked to Darius yet," Roundtree said, smiling. "I'm sure that's not going to be a good talk, but I'm sure he's going to do great next season. I'll be following him, for sure."
Roundtree can look forward to four years of matchups with Edwardsville teammate Armon Fletcher, who has signed with Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Both schools plays in the Missouri Valley Conference.
"I haven't talked to him yet, but I'm sure that conversation is going to be pretty interesting, and I can't wait to talk to him about it," Roundtree said.
Edwardsville coach Mike Waldo said Roundtree has the talent and desire necessary to succeed at the Division I level.
"Shawn's the kind of player that's just going to continue to improve because his work ethic is excellent," Waldo said. "He'll continue to grow each year he plays. He's going to do well for Missouri State because they need a point guard. He's very versatile; he can do a lot of things. He can score, but he can also run an offense very well. He's also very good on defense."
Waldo often has described Roundtree as "a winning player."
"Shawn always plays to win," he said. "Every decision he makes is the right decision. It's not based on him trying to score. Everything he does offensively is to try to make the right play. He's a winning player because the game plan is always executed exactly the way you want it. He knows what you want and he can do exactly what the game plan is. ... He always produces what you want on the floor."
Roundtree could have signed much earlier, of course, but he decided to use the season to increase his value. There were times when he wasn't sure that was the right decision.
"It was tough," Roundtree said. "There were times in December when I was telling my mom that all my friends and ex-teammates were getting signed or committing or certain schools were looking at them. (I thought), 'What's going to happen to me?'
"There was a point where I was kind of down, but I always had faith it was going to work out. I was fortunate to have numerous schools recruiting me; I was real privileged by that."
Roundtree agreed that his strategy on waiting until after the season to sign was a bit of a gamble. But he banked on having another strong year that would lure bigger schools into the mix.
"Our thing was we wanted to take our time," he said. "We didn't want to rush anything. We wanted to be completely sure that whatever school I chose was the exact one for me. I felt like we handled it pretty well, and it definitely worked out."
Roundtree closed his Edwardsville career with 1,169 points to become just the 19th player in school history in the 1,000-point club. A three-year starter, Roundtree was a part of three sectional championships and two berths in the state tourney.
"It's been a great run," he said. "I've been fortunate to have great teammates throughout those years that have helped me evolve as a player and as a person, like Darius Crochrell. We came in as freshmen. To do all those things together means a lot. (And) we had great coaches. I've been taught by a lot of great minds."
Roundtree wasn't born when Lusk, a former assistant at Iowa, was dominating the high-school scene at Wesclin. Behind Lusk and Brent Brede, the Warriors won the Class A state championship in 1990.
"I already know he has a huge resume over here in the Midwest area," Roundtree said. "That was good to hear. He's definitely a great coach. I know the town of Springfield really loves him. I had a great feel for him when I was on the visit and got a chance to talk to him. I just felt like he's definitely the type of coach I want to play under.
"When it's all said and done, it's going to be on me, whether I go in there and earn minutes."