Javon Pickett said he’s relieved to have finally settled on a college where he will continue his basketball career.
The recent Belleville East graduate confirmed Saturday that he has joined a crop of highly-rated recruits at the University of Missouri.
Like East St. Louis graduate and fellow Southwestern Conference product Jeremiah Tilmon, Pickett was granted a release from a national letter of intent he signed with the University of Illinois following the firing of head coach John Groce.
New Illini coach Brad Underwood made a bid to keep them both, but Pickett elected to join Tilmon in Columbia, where they will play with new head coach Cuonzo Martin, also an East St. Louis native.
“It’s just a relief to have this finally settled and know where I’ll be playing,” Pickett said. “I’m just anxious to get this going.”
Pickett had to reclassify as a 2018 recruit, which means he’ll attend of a year of preparatory school before he can take the next available scholarship spot at Missouri in 2018. He still has yet to decide which prep school he’ll attend.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound forward, had his breakout year as a sophomore with 14.3 points per game for the Lancers, but he became one of the top scorers in the area with 23.5 points per game his junior season.
He ranked third in St. Louis and No. 1 in the metro-east as a senior, adding a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game to his nearly 26 points of offense.
Pickett said he was content with his commitment to Illinois until Groce was fired. Even then, he said, he was open to overtures from Underwood.
“I really wanted to play for Coach Groce, so it was disappointing when I learned he wouldn’t be back,” Pickett said. “Sometimes things just work out, though. I think maybe I’m just supposed to go to Missouri.”
Missouri has one of the nation’s most talked about recruiting classes for 2017, which includes the consensus No. 1 prospect Michael Porter Jr., Tilmon, and four-star prospect Blake Harris from Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Last week, Martin announced he had also secured the commitment of Porter’s younger brother Jontay Porter, who also reclassified as a class of 2018 prospect.
“I choose Missouri because of Coach Martin and because of Jeremiah, though I didn’t talk to Jeremiah at all leading up to my decision today,” Pickett said Saturday. “I think this is the best thing for me and for my family. It’s good to have this over with.”
Attempts to reach Martin were unsuccessful.