It’s heady stuff for a junior to already be a two-time recipient of the Belleville News-Democrat’s Class 3A-4A boys basketball Player of the Year award.
Then again, Jordan Goodwin is anything but ordinary.
Goodwin, Althoff High’s 6-foot-3 bundle of talent, has repeated his Player of the Year award from last season, athough the circumstances are very different.
In 2015, Goodwin was still overcoming the pain of the Crusaders’ 67-63 loss to Westchester St. Joseph in the Class 3A title game when he learned of his individual award.
Being Player of the Year is a huge accomplishment because we’ve got a lot of good players around here. It feels good. My team helped me get it. I loved playing with these guys. I’m going to miss them a lot when they leave.
Althoff junior Jordan Goodwin
This year, Goodwin still is as happy as a colt in clover with Althoff being able to close the deal March 19 with a 62-37 drubbing of Lincoln-Way West. The Crusaders reached the championship game with a 66-62 win over nemesis Westchester St. Joseph.
“Being Player of the Year is a huge accomplishment because we’ve got a lot of good players around here,” said Goodwin, who averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and 3.2 assists as Althoff finished 32-2. “It feels good. My team helped me get it. I loved playing with these guys. I’m going to miss them a lot when they leave.
“For the coaches to vote for me tells me they like my game. I appreciate them doing that. It means all the hard work I’ve been doing is paying off. I want to say thank you to all of them that did vote for me.”
The Crusaders’ state championship was the first in 99 seasons for a Belleville basketball team. Goodwin said they accomplished the feat by never looking too far ahead.
“Every game, we had a goal, and that was to win,” Goodwin said. “I think what best describes us as a team is a lot of heart and the size of our heart. So I think about what’s inside our chest. I know people said we had a lot talent, but we were a well-coached team this year.”
I’ve had a lot of people come by and congratulate me and talk about how hard he plays. We prided ourselves in our guys playing hard, but Jordan plays extremely hard and competes. He does a great job with that.
Althoff coach Greg Leib
Crusaders coach Greg Leib often talked this season about having to basically force his players to leave the gym after practice. Goodwin, a notorious hard worker, and several teammates would remain at the gym indefinitely unless Leib told them to leave.
“Ball is life. Ball is everything. That’s pretty much it,” Goodwin said. “After practice, me and ‘Tark’ (Tarkus Ferguson) and really the whole team would be in there and he would have to take the ball from us. After practice, he would give us a good 30 minutes, but we always wanted to stay in there longer.”
That desire to practice carried over into games. Leib said Goodwin “willed” Althoff to the state championship, with hard work being the foundation.
“I’ve had a lot of people come by and congratulate me and talk about how hard he plays,” Leib said. “We prided ourselves in our guys playing hard, but Jordan plays extremely hard and competes. He does a great job with that. We start the year every year and want to be the hardest-playing team out there.”
Leib told Goodwin before the season that in addition to his skills on the floor, Goodwin was needed to provide leadership, too.
Clearly, Goodwin’s competitive drive and zeal for the game led his teammates to gravitate toward him. And if something needed to be said, Goodwin wasn’t hesitate to say it.
I think this year I became a better leader. And my guard play got a lot better. My talking on defense got way better, too. That’s something I had to do. I love talking to my guys, leading them in battle. That feels pretty good, especially when everybody is buying in and listening to you. I listen to them, too.
“I feel like I’m a leader with the guys, but they know what they’ve got to do,” Goodwin said. “I hold them accouuntable to things when they mess up. They hold me accountable to things when I mess up. It’s kind of the way a family works.”
Goodwin much prefers to talk about the team rather than himself, but he expressed statisfaction about the development he made in his third season as a starter.
“I think this year I became a better leader,” he said. “And my guard play got a lot better. My talking on defense got way better, too. That’s something I had to do. I love talking to my guys, leading them in battle. That feels pretty good, especially when everybody is buying in and listening to you. I listen to them, too.”
Gain through pain
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Crusaders was, despite their talent, there was no divisiveness. Any of the starters could have been another team’s main player.
But there was no “me-first” approach at Althoff. The players were united and sincerely enjoyed their teammates’ accomplishments.
“We’ve got a few guys that could average 30 a game,” Leib said. “But they were willing to sacrifice that for winning. I guarantee you every one of them would much rather have that state-championship trophy as opposed to scoring an extra five, 10, 15 points a game.”
Goodwin said Althoff went with the player with the hot hand on that particular night.
“We all know the goal is to win the game by any means,” Goodwin said. “Let’s say (Brendon) Gooch was feeling it. We’ll play to Gooch’s game. We would do whatever we can to get him the ball. We would do whatever we can to win the game.”
Althoff played its worst game of the season Jan. 9 in the Highland Shootout, losing to Jayson Tatum and Chaminade 81-66.
It was the only game the Crusaders lost when their entire squad was on hand. The other loss, 66-51 to Highland on Nov. 24, came before Goodwin, Ferguson, Keenen Young, C.J. Coldon and others returned from football.
Goodwin said the team refocused after being humbled by Chaminade.
“After the game, we had a meeting and we all talked about what happened in that game,” Goodwin said. “People who didn’t even play said we were selfish the way we handled the ball. That wasn’t going to get us anywhere.
“Right now, when I look back on that game, there were a lot of things we could have done to win the game. I know we played a good team, but I feel like we were still the better team. It made us hungrier. We were (getting) a little cocky. It made us more humble.”
Off the court
As much as Goodwin loves basketball, fishing ranks second in his list of passions.
Goodwin and his dad, Tim, often go fishing in the early morning hours of summer. Jordan Goodwin prefers catching catfish, and recalled reeling in a 40-pounder three years ago at Caryle Lake.
“He’s equally gifted in the art of fishing as he is at basketball,” Leib said. “I can see Jordan, when he gets done playing basketball, having his own Saturday morning show with Bill Dance or Jimmy Houston, out fishing somewhere. He loves to fish as much as he likes to shoot baskets. He’s always talking about fishing.”
He’s equally gifted in the art of fishing as he is at basketball. I can see Jordan, when he gets done playing basketball, having his own Saturday morning show with Bill Dance or Jimmy Houston, out fishing somewhere. He loves to fish as much as he likes to shoot baskets. He’s always talking about fishing.
Greg Leib on Jordan Goodwin’s second passion, fishing
Goodwin won’t argue the point.
“I could talk all day about fishing,” Goodwin said. “My dad and I used to always go fishing when I was younger. It’s pretty much a tradition. Every time he asked me if I wanted to go fishing, I would say, ‘Yeah, I’ll go.’
“I just like catching the fish, bringing it home, having my mom (Toni) cook it and eat it. We go to Carlyle sometimes, but we’ve got a few spots around here. I’m a catfish guy. My dad always catches some big ones. My mom does a great job of cooking them.”
Goodwin already is looking forward to his senior year. With Coldon, Marvin Bateman and Edwyn Brown also coming back, Goodwin’s objective is clear.
“Most definitely, another state championship. That’s our main goal. ... I still think me and C.J. and Marvin and Edwyn, and whoever steps into the other spot, we can definitely get back (to state),” said Goodwin, who wants to improve his 50-percent free-throw shooting. “I feel I got better, but I still think I let my team down a lot. I left a lot of points at the line.”
After next season, Goodwin will decide where, and perhaps what, he wants to play. He has basketball offers from Illinois, Missouri, Purdue, Kansas State, Wisconsin, St. Louis U. and others, and has a football offer from Iowa.
“I’ll wait it out. I’ll make (my decision) about a year from now,” Goodwin said. “I really don’t give it any thought. There’s a lot of options. I can see myself playing a lot of places.”
2015-16 Belleville News-Democrat
All-Area Boys Basketball Team
Player of the Year
Jordan Goodwin, Althoff, jr.
Coach of the Year
Greg Leib, Althoff
Brendon Gooch, Althoff, sr.
Javon Pickett, Belleville East, jr.
A.J. Epenesa, Edwardsville, jr.
Tarkus Ferguson, Althoff, sr.
Kenny Berry, Granite City, sr.
Tyler Dancy, Belleville West, jr.
E.J. Liddell, Belleville West, fr.
Mark Smith, Edwardsville, sr.
Kenny Roberson, East St. Louis, sr.
Jonathan Holmes, Columbia, sr.
(Players listed in alphabetical order)
Tra’ron Allen, Granite City; Chance Armstrong, O’Fallon; Marvin Bateman, Althoff; Thomas Bell, Cahokia; Marquise Chairs, East St. Louis; C.J. Coldon, Althoff; Zach Diecker, Freeburg; Maurice Edwards, Alton; Austin Elledge, Highland; Korbin Farmer, Columbia; Ben Huels, Waterloo; Marcus Latham, Alton; Ronnie Midgett, Collinsville; Noah Moss, Triad; Nick Pollmann, Mater Dei; Oliver Stephen, Edwardsville; Rico Sylvester, Belleville East; Keenen Young, Althoff.
Belleville News-Democrat Large-School Basketball
Previous Players of the Year
2016-Jordan Goodwin, Althoff
2015 - Jordan Goodwin, Althoff
2014 - Shawn Roundtree, Edwardsville
2013 - Malcolm Hill, Belleville East
2012 - Malcolm Hill, Belleville East
2011 - Roosevelt Jones, O'Fallon
2010 - Roosevelt Jones, O'Fallon
2009 - Will Triggs, Edwardsville
2008 - Ruben Cotto, Alton
2007 - Kavon Lacey, Alton
2006 - Dustin Maguire, Edwardsville
2005 - Nick Arth, Edwardsville
2004 - Kevin Lisch, Althoff
2003 - Kevin Lisch, Althoff; J.B. Jones, Belleville West
2002 - Vernell Coates, Collinsville
2001 - Ramon Kelly, Belleville West
2000 - Darius Miles, East St. Louis
1999 - Darius Miles, East St. Louis