One of the best qualities about Althoff High senior Jordan Goodwin is his ability to find motivation when criticism is sent his way.
And while Goodwin’s decision Friday to make a verbal commitment to St. Louis University was extremely popular among Billikens’ fans, he saw first-hand on social media that fans of other colleges were not too pleased with his decision.
“I knew it was going to go nuts,” said Goodwin, who announced his decision via his Twitter account. “I know there’s a lot of people on social media that get carried away. People talk about the decision and all that, but at the end of the day it’s my decision. I’ve been counted out before, I’ve been told I wasn’t going to win a state championship.
“They say I’m not going to be good at SLU. You’ve got to wait to see.”
The 6-foot-4 Goodwin was the first major recruit landed by new SLU coach Travis Ford, the former coach at Oklahoma State. Goodwin also is the first major recruit from Belleville to play for the Billikens since Althoff High graduate Kevin Lisch, currently playing for Australia at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Goodwin, who helped lead Althoff to the Class 3A state championship last season, has won back-to-back Belleville News-Democrat Large School Player of the Year awards. He also was a starter on Althoff’s football team that finished 13-1 last season and reached the Class 4A state title game before losing to Chicago Phillips.
Goodwin said the final decision came down to St. Louis U. and Northwestern.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Goodwin said. “Me and my parents thought it was the best decision. Being close to home and having everybody with you, putting the city on my back, playing for an outstanding coach in Travis Ford. I like having him in my corner, especially seeing how he develops players.”
Scout.com has Goodwin ranked as the No. 1 small forward recruit in Illinois, No. 3 in the Midwest and the 56th best recruit in the country.
Goodwin averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and 3.2 assists as a junior while helping Althoff to a 32-2 record and the state championship. He can play shooting guard and small forward and is an intense competitor whom Althoff coach Greg Leib has said is the type of player who makes everyone around him better.
“Every game, we had a goal, and that was to win,” Goodwin said earlier this year. “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.”
Ironically, Goodwin insisted he had a dream Tuesday that led him to choosing the Billikens.
“What really got me about SLU was I had a dream about it,” he said. “I was being chased by a Billiken. In my dream I was running and I went to the arena — and that’s when the Billiken finally caught me.
“I woke up and told my dad about it. We talked about it and he said if that’s what you want to do, do it.”
Goodwin helped lead Althoff to the Class 3A state championship last season and has won back-to-back Belleville News-Democrat Large School Player of the Year awards.
Goodwin averaged 16.4 points and 9.6 rebounds this summer while playing with the St. Louis Eagles AAU team.
SLU recently hired former Eagles coach and University of Missouri standout player and assistant coach Corey Tate as an assistant coach. Tate, who was the head coach at Mineral Area Junior College for 11 seasons, got to know Goodwin originally through the Eagles’ program.
“I was leaning toward SLU anyway, but when Coach Tate got a job over there that changed a lot,” Goodwin said. “This is where the best fit is at for me.”
The Billikens were 11-21 in each of the last two seasons under former coach Jim Crews. The Billikens have made three NCAA Tournament appearances since 2001, doing so in three straight seasons (2012 through 2014).
Long sought as a top target by Illinois, Goodwin narrowed his recruiting list to seven schools on July 26. The list included St. Louis U., Illinois, Alabama, Northwestern, Missouri, Butler and Creighton.
Also thought to have been a plus for the Illini was the recent verbal commitment by former East St. Louis High standout center Jeremiah Tilmon, who played last season at La Lumiere in Indiana. The commitments of Tilmon and Belleville East senior swingman Javon Pickett gave the Illini a definite metro-east impact, but Goodwin decided to commit to the Billikens instead.
Goodwin’s teammates last season included Brendon Gooch, now at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and Illinois-Chicago freshman Tarkus Ferguson. Goodwin and the Crusaders will be competing in the Class 4A playoff this season and return plenty of experience, including C.J. Coldon, Marvin Bateman and Edwyn Brown.
Goodwin isn’t thinking about college now. He’s too busy chasing another state title for the Crusaders.
“My main focus is getting a state championship because I’ve just got to get another one,” he said. “I’ve got to get one my senior year.”
Goodwin said he is still deciding whether or not to play football this year. Despite not playing until his sophomore year, the tight end and receiver attracted Division I football offers from Iowa and New Mexico.
“I still haven’t decided,” Goodwin said. “But even if I’m not playing I’ll be on the sideline with them every game.”