Okawville High senior guard Noah Frederking, a former all-state player and former Belleville News-Democrat Player of the Year, on Saturday gave a verbal commitment to the University of Evansville.
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard averaged 20.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists last season while helping the Rockets (28-5) reach the Class 1A White Hall North Greene Sectional championship game. He is the second-leading scorer in Okawville boys basketball history with 1,968 points, averaging 22 points as a sophomore and 18.6 points as a freshman.
He trails only former Okawville High all-state player and Hall of Fame coach Dave Luechtefeld, who scores 2,155 points for the Rockets from 1955 to 1958. Luechtefeld retired from coaching and is now an Illinois state senator.
Frederking also had a team-high 51 3-pointers in 134 attempts last season (38.1 percent). He can sign with Evansville during the early signing period that begins Nov. 9.
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In Frederking’s mind, Evansville had a lot more to offer him than the scholarship.
“I love the way they play and I think I’ll fit very well in their system,” said Frederking, who made an earlier unofficial visit to Evansville in June before visiting there again Thursday through Saturday. “There’s a lot of off-the-ball screens, a lot of motion. They won’t ask me to do anything I can’t do. They had confidence in me to offer me, and that meant a lot, too.
“Academically, their business school is very good and they’re ranked really high so that was a big plus for me as well.”
Frederking has been a first-team BND All-Area selection all three years and as a sophomore was named Belleville News-Democrat Small-School Player of the Year.
The coach at Evansville is Marty Simmons, the former Lawrenceville High all-stater and former Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men’s basketball coach. The Purple Aces compete in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“Coach Simmons is awesome, a great guy and really cool,” Frederking said. “He demands a lot out of his players and that’s the way it should be. He coaches the game the right way, he wants the game played the right way and he preaches that. I really love that.”
Evansville was the only Division I offer Frederking received, but he had plenty of interest from schools such as Dartmouth, SIUE, Indiana State and numerous Division II schools.
“I really liked the guys (at Evansville). The edge was the guys that they have there now that I’ll be playing with the next couple years,” Frederking said. “They’re great. At first I was planing on going as far away as I could, but now I realize that it’s very convenient and not too far if I need to get back home, plus I can have my family come to the games.
“It’s pretty relieving now that it’s finally over, the whole process. I can finally relax.”
The highest thing on Frederking’s to-do list now is helping the Rockets reach the state tournament. During the past three years they have reached the sectional final, super-sectional and regional final.
“I’m just honored to be able to play the game at the next level,” he said. “That was my ultimate goal. Now the only thing I’m looking forward to get is getting to that state tournament.”
Okawville coach Jon Kraus also thinks Evansville will be a good fit for Frederking in a variety of ways.
“I know he liked the coaches a lot and he likes the fact that he’s going away from home, but it’s close enough too that a lot of people can see him play,” Kraus said. “It’s a good program. They’ve been on the rise and that had a little to do with it too.”
For a small Class 1A school without football that only recently added girls volleyball, Okawville has produced closed to two dozen Division I athletes in various sports dating back to the Dave Luechtefeld playing era. The list includes the school’s other 2,000-point scorer, former Colorado player and current Rockets girls basketball coach Michelle Hasheider Burianek.
“The number of Division I athletes that we’ve had at Okawville would surprise a lot of people,” Kraus said. “It’s close to 20 probably, kids that went away and played on Division I scholarships among boys and girls. It’s a great accomplishment for a small community like we have.”
— In other metro-east basketball news, former Columbia High guard Jonathan Holmes has made the University of Arkansas Razorbacks as a walk-on. Holmes was Columbia’s top scorer last season, averaging 14.6 points per game with a team-leading 47 3-pointers.