In the end, family ties and a strong feeling about St. Louis University helped Althoff High senior all-stater Jordan Goodwin make his choice to become a Billiken.
“My freshman year I used to go over there and watch Jordair Jett play,” Goodwin said Wednesday morning after signing his letter of intent. “I fell in love with the fans, the atmosphere and everything. (New SLU coach) Travis Ford got there, talked to me and recruited me heavily. He went to all my AAU games, didn’t miss a game.
“He’s somebody I can trust and my family trusts. If the family feels good about it, I feel good about it. (Althoff) Coach (Greg) Leib liked it too, so we just made it happen.”
Surrounded by his large family, the 6-foot-4 Goodwin made it official Wednesday by signing his letter of intent. He was the first major recruit landed by Ford’s coaching staff, committing to the Billikens in August. SLU assistant Corey Tate also played a big role in the process since he was Goodwin’s former AAU coach with the St. Louis Eagles.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
“I did something that I haven’t done in 20 years as a college coach — I didn’t miss one single game of his this summer,” Ford said Wednesday. “I wanted him to know that he was a priority. I wanted him to know he was an emphasis for us and a difference-maker for us. He’s perfect for our system.
“He reminds me a lot of (former Oklahoma State and current Boston Celtics guard) Marcus Smart. Marcus played a lot of point for me and never had necessarily played point guard before. (Goodwin) can play the point, he can play the two (shooting guard) and play a lot of different positions.”
Goodwin helped lead Althoff to the Class 3A state basketball championship last season and is the two-time defending News-Democrat Large School Player of the Year. He also has been a starter and key contributor on Althoff’s football team that went 13-1 last season and is currently 11-0 headed into its Class 4A quarterfinal game Saturday against Rochester (10-1).
Goodwin averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and 3.2 assists as a junior guard and small forward. Althoff was 32-3 and won the 3A state title, but will compete in the Class 4A playoffs this season. SLU also has verbal commitments from 6-7 senior Hasahn French, a power forward at Commonwealth Academy in Massachusetts, as well as 6-9 junior star Carte’are Gordon from Webster Groves, Mo. Gordon is a top 10 national recruit in the Class of 2018.
My freshman year I used to go over there and watch Jordair Jett play. I fell in love with the fans, the atmosphere and everything.
Althoff’s Jordan Goodwin on signing with St. Louis U.
Scout.com has Goodwin ranked as the No. 1 small forward recruit in Illinois and and the 52nd best recruit in the country. ESPN has Goodwin at No. 57 on its ESPN 100 list of national recruits.
Close to home
With SLU’s campus and Chaifetz Arena being right across the river from the metro-east, Goodwin has guaranteed a large cheering section of family and friends at Billiken home games.
“That’s probably the biggest thing,” he said. “I’ve got a huge family. I’ve probably got my own family section during the high school season right in the middle. I’m right across the river so everybody’s going to be there now.
“It took them a long time to offer me a scholarship, but it felt like home the first time I walked into the gym to watch Jordair Jett play.”
Goodwin’s mother, Antoinette Goodwin, said the decision was completely her son’s. Se doesn’t mind the fact he will not be far away.
“It means a lot because my family has followed him from kindergarten all the way up through his high school career,” she said. “It’s just a blessing to have him that close to home and the family still gets to go over and enjoy the home games. We’ll still get a chance to be close and be a part of his fan base.”
Leib was a college basketball teammate of Goodwin’s father, Tim Goodwin, at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
“You never think back in the mid-80s that you’d ever be in this kind of situation where one of your teammates’ kids is getting a college scholarship to a great institution,” Leib said. “It’s a great day, a very blessed day and a lot of fun - and all the credit goes to Jordan. He’s really worked himself into this situation.”
Don’t underestimate the role Tate played in Goodwin’s recruiting. Long sought as a top target by Illinois, Goodwin narrowed his recruiting list to seven schools in late July and that list included St. Louis U., Illinois, Alabama, Northwestern, Missouri, Butler and Creighton.
Goodwin said his final two schools were SLU and Northwestern, but felt Tate was a difference-maker.
“He coached me with the St. Louis Eagles,” Goodwin said. “He gave me a chance. I was 16 and he brought me up with (Duke freshman Jayson) Tatum and them. I know I can trust him, my dad trusts him. He’s like another father figure to me.”
Many Illini fans felt jilted when Goodwin chose SLU. Illinois coach John Groce was the first to offer Goodwin a scholarship and two other metro-east players, Jeremiah Tilmon from East St. Louis and Belleville East’s Javon Pickett, committed to the Illini.
“Illinois was the first school to offer me a scholarship. They did a good job of recruiting me,” Goodwin said. “They came kind of close, but it’s just things that stood out that they didn’t have that SLU had.”
East St. Louis basketball coach Phillip Gilbert said Tilmon would not be signing his letter of intent with Illinois on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period.
“I talked to him a little bit,” Goodwin said of Tilmon. “He didn’t tell me much about it. I just told him if he’s thinking about it, do whatever you’ve got to do to make you happy. Make sure it’s the decision you wanted.
“He probably felt pressure to sign, he probably felt pressure to commit to Illinois at the time. But I just told him do what I did, take your time, go with whoever you trust. It’s all about trust.”