Just days after being named a Louisville Slugger first-team All-American, Edwardsville High senior shortstop Jordan Hovey got some more good news.
It came in the form of a scholarship offer from nationally ranked Missouri State, where Hovey will join former Edwardsville star outfielder Blake Graham.
“I called him and we talked on the phone for about a half hour,” said Hovey, who originally signed with Wabash Valley Community College. “He said a lot of really good things and the more I talked to him the more I realized I wanted to go to Missouri State. It’s definitely going to be fun.”
After hitting just .234 with three homers and 12 RBIs as a junior, Hovey’s offense exploded as a senior. He hit .382 with a St. Louis area-leading 11 home runs while also collecting 12 doubles and 32 RBIs.
“I matured a lot,” Hovey said. “Mentally I was stronger and I trained myself to be better. Not carrying at-bats (over), learning from mistakes and not getting down on myself.”
A unanimous pick as first-team shortstop on the Belleville News-Democrat All-Area Team, Hovey also led the Tigers with 46 runs scored and 15 stolen bases. Only teammate Matthew Zielonko had more RBIs (33). Edwardsville (35-2), which lost to O’Fallon in the sectional semifinals, spent much of the season in the USA Super 25 national rankings.
Hovey was one of two Louisville Slugger first-team All-Americans from the metro-east. The other was Chicago Cubs third-round dratf pick Bryan Hudson, a senior pitcher at Alton.
“That was awesome, I wasn’t really expecting anything like that,” Hovey said of the All-American honor. “I thought it was cool just to be nominated for it but to actually be an All-American is something that still probably hasn’t hit me yet.”
Hovey’s path to MSU was similar to Graham’s and former Belleville West standout Aaron Meyer. Now sophomores at Missouri State, which finished 49-12 this season and reached the NCAA Super Regional, Graham and Meyer both got late scholarship offers from Bears coach Keith Guttin.
“(Edwardsville) Coach (Tim) Funkhouser told me they had been interested in me for a while,” Hovey said. “They had me on campus a couple days ago. I didn’t actually think that I would end up there this year, but they ended up making a really good offer. I’ll have the chance to play as a freshman, so it’s a good opportunity for me.”
Hovey said the Bears project him as a middle infielder. He likes the fact his family will be able to see him play a lot with many Missouri Valley Conference schools within a few hours drive.
“I knew there was a possibility of stuff happening,” Hovey said, “but I told myself if it wasn’t the perfect fit or the right place for me and my family, I was still going to go to Wabash.”
Hovey also had a scholarship offer from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and interest from SIU Carbondale, Oral Roberts and Southeast Missouri.
“Missouri State was the one that I really wanted to go to, so I’m glad it worked out with them,” Hovey said.
Missouri State has produced a lot of future pro talent under Guttin, including star pitcher and recent Toronto Blue Jays first-round pick (29th overall) Jon Harris and Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. Longtime Bears pitching coach Paul Evans is a Granite City native.
Other Bears drafted this season included outfielder Tate Matheny (Red Sox), son of St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, pitcher Matt Hall (Tigers) and shortstop Joey Hawkins (Cardinals).
Graham hit .273 in 56 games with four homers and 31 RBIs. Meyer hit .298 in 39 games with three doubles and nine RBIs.