When Ryan Pedon took over the Illinois State program in March, the former Ohio State assistant coach pledged to recruit the state of Illinois. He said then he wanted to “send a message” and “our actions should indicate we are serious about recruiting the state.”
Pedon immediately secured a couple of in-state players in the transfer portal, including former Bolingbrook star Darius Burford.
Now he’s landed a high-scoring in-state recruit with local ties in ISU’s Class of 2023 recruiting class.
Ty Pence from St. Joseph-Ogden, located in central Illinois and just one hour from Redbird Arena, committed to Pedon and Illinois State on Thursday.
Pence, one of the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top dozen prospects in the Class of 2023, received high-major interest and offers the past year, including a recent late push from Wake Forest. But Pedon impressed Pence right from the start as he and his staff made Pence a priority as soon as they were hired last spring.
“They started recruiting me right away and I was immediately impressed with coach Pedon,” said Pence, who averaged 24 points a game as a junior. “Plus, it’s close to home and being able to play in front of my family and friends is really important to me.”
Pence is very familiar with Illinois State. His father, Todd, is an ISU graduate, and his sister Kenzie, who played softball for the Redbirds, just recently graduated. The proximity was a positive, but the versatile 6-5 Pence reiterated how Pedon made the difference.
After getting on campus a couple of times to spend time with the coaching staff and getting to know a few of ISU’s recruits, Pence was fully on board.
“Coach Pedon’s leadership, when he’s out there with his guys, really stood out to me,” Pence said. “You could tell his players were all bought in to what he was trying to get them to do and what their goal is. For being there for such a short time, it really impressed me that he’s been able to get that buy in so fast.”
Pence thrives on the wing with his size, athleticism, and shooting ability. He can play a number of positions on the perimeter and light up a gym with above-the-rim plays, dunks, and long-distance threes.
He’s also well aware of the NCAA Tournament dry spell for the Redbirds, and it’s something that attracted him even more to ISU. Ending that drought is front and center for him, the coaching staff, and the program.
“That is one reason I chose Illinois State,” Pence said of the fact ISU hasn’t been to a tournament since 1998. “With this new staff, I was excited to be a part of a new era of Illinois State basketball and to try and turn it around. If we are able to get back to the tournament it would be really cool and exciting to be a part of that.”