Tyler Joest is a lean 6-foot-8 senior whose game takes him to all places on the court.
The swingman at Central High in Breese is as comfortable on the perimeter as he is in the post. He can shoot 3-pointers, use a behind-the-back dribble to slip around a defender on his way to the rim, alter shots in the paint and finish effectively with either hand.
The Cougars will need a big season from the soft-spoken Joest to overcome the graduations of Kolby Schulte, Jack Strieker and others.
“Losing seven seniors is kind of tough, but I’m excited for the challenge of having the rest of us step up to see what we can do this year,” said Joest, who averaged 10.3 points last season as the Cougars finished 26-5 overall and won the Cahokia Conference.
Recruiting of Joest is expected to pick up the pace after a summer of development with Gateway Illinois. Thus far, Division II and NAIA programs have reached out to Joest, who prefers to land at a four-year school rather than playing at the junior-college level.
“I would say it’s still pretty early,” said Joest, the son of Mike and Kris Joest. “I just want to find the school that’s the best fit for me, where I will feel comfortable. I’m not really worried about the level I play at after high school.”
Division II programs Carson-Newman University, of Jefferson City, Tenn., Missouri-St. Louis and Davenport University, of Grand Rapids, Mich., are among the suitors for Joest. NAIA schools Lindenwood-Belleville, William Woods University and Missouri Baptist also are in the mix.
“Interest has picked up since our summer season was over and since school started and the AAU season was over,” Central coach Jeremy Shubert said. “I’ve been getting more letters that I pass on to him. He’s getting more mail now from different colleges. Tyler’s best basketball is ahead of him. He’s going to have some options. He’s going to have some tough decision because there’s no doubt he’s going to play college basketball.”
I just want to find the school that’s the best fit for me, where I will feel comfortable. I’m not really worried about the level I play at after high school.
6-foot-8 Central senior Tyler Joest
Shubert said Joest’s presence on the defensive end kick-starts the Cougars’ attack.
“When he defends and alters things, if we can get that rebound, we can get into transition, which is the way he likes to play and what fans like to watch,” Shubert said. “His defense last year, his presence in the lane was a big reason (for our success).
“He’s going to be very good this year for us if we can get him to score in the low block, which is going to open things up more for him on the outside.”
Joest credits his dad for helping him develop his away-from-the-basket skills, and that’s part of the game he derives the most enjoyment. His favorite player is a 6-3 point guard: the Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving.
“I try to have that versatility,” Joest said. “I’ve always been tall for my age. My dad really pushed me to handle the ball as I was growing up – ever since I started playing basketball.
“I would say the most enjoyable part (of basketball) is usually whenever I’m on the outside and I get to drive around my defender and get into the lane with a layup or a dunk – finish over them. Last year, people started realizing I can shoot the 3. They started guarding me a little closer.”
Joest said he became more confident this summer, something he hopes will carry him through his senior year.
“I would say this year I realize I have to work a lot harder than in the past,” Joest said. “My work ethic has improved a lot. I just want to get better, especially now that I have to take a leadership role coming into my senior season and being the only returning starter.
“I would say I’m a little too quiet on the court sometimes. I can take the ball to the whole well from the outside – driving in. I definitely need to get stronger in the post. I get pushed around a little bit. I’m just trying to get better and see where everything goes.”
David Wilhelm: @DavidMWilhelm