JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
Twelve years ago a little kindergarten girl showed up for one of Coach Carolyn Wendte’s basketball camps. On Wednesday, that little girl, Micah Jones, inked a deal to play Division-I collegiate basketball at SIU-Edwardsville.
Carolyn Wendte has been coaching around Cowden-Herrick and Beecher City for 24 years. She’s held camps and built a program from the ground up that took her teams to State two of the last three years. A key ingredient to her Final Four appearance in 2010 and her State Runner-Up finish in 2012 was that little kindergarten girl, who could palm a rebound 1-handed by the time she was in 5th grade.
Jones was a freshman on the 26-6 team that finished 4th in the State, a sophomore on CHBC’s 22-4 team that got knocked off in the sectional final, and a junior on the state runner-up team that went 29-4, the best record in school history.
Jones recorded the first-ever triple-double at the girls state tournament when she was a freshman with double-digit points, double-digit rebounds, and a double-digit blocked shots in the semifinal game.
As a sophomore, Jones earned IBCA All-State 2nd Team honors. Her junior year, she earned 1st Team IBCA All-State and 1st team AP All-State.
Jones has scored 1430 points in three years, grabbed 951 rebounds, has 242 blocked shots, 274 assists and 160 steals. She has shot over 50% from the field for her first three years. She has averaged a double-double for her first three years (16 points, 10 rebounds).
Jones had four offers from D-I schools and a host of other offers. She chose SIU-Edwardsville.
“I like the coaches. I like the campus. It’s close to home,” Jones said of her choice to play for SIU-E.
SIU-E coach Paula Bucher was already recruiting Jones when Bucher was at Bradley University in Peoria. Bucher then went to SIU-E and Jones stuck with her.
“They came and saw me play at State and in AAU,” Jones said. “They said they like the way I crash the boards. They also said they like all my defense.”
Jones not only played on three great teams during the school year, but played AAU ball in the summer.
“I played for the Jets out of Belleville West and also for the Lady Ice out of Carlinville,” Jones said. “I got to play with Faith and Emily on the Lady Ice.”
FaithWendte and Emily Wheeler, both a year older, played on the two state teams with Jones. Wendte is currently playing for Lake Land College and Wheeler is playing for Lincoln Land College.
Coach Wendte now has nine players that have signed to play college ball during her tenure. Jones is the first D-I signee.
Holly Wachtel signed with MacMurray College. Ashley Mathias signed with McKendree College, became an assistant coach there, and then was a successful coach at Shelbyville High School. Shelby Naab signed to play at Eureka College.
Sarah Jones, Micah’s cousin, signed to play at Lake Land College. Nicole Gardner, in ’09, signed to play at Millikin University. Hillary Shelton (‘10), from the Final Four team, signed to play basketball and softball at Millikin. She was followed by Wendte (‘12) at Lake Land and Wheeler (‘12) at Lincoln Land.
Four of the girls that played together on the two state teams have signed. More had offers, but opted out for other career tracks.
What does Jones expect at the next level?
I’m gonna have to work out,” Jones said. “Lift weights. I hope I can contribute as a freshman.”
What position will she play? Coach Wendte said she might see some action at the 3rd slot. Others said she could be a 3, a 4, or even a 5, like in high school.
Jones will start summer school at SIU-E in June to get her on campus and start working out. Jones will be playing alongside an old foe from Teutopolis, who is currently a freshman at SIU-E, Jessie Wendt.
What are Jones’ goals for her final year of high school ball?
“I’d like to make it out of regionals and take baby steps from there, again,” Jones said.
The CHBC Hornets won big on opening night, Monday, beating South Central, 50-14. Jones scored 24 points and spent most of the game feeding her teammates during the one-sided affair.
Who does that little kindergarten girl have to thank for her success?
“I’m grateful to all my coaches, Coach Wendte, definitely,” Jones said. “My mom (Laura Endsley), my aunt and uncle (Maribeth and Doug Brown), and my whole family. The teammate that helped me the most was Hilary Shelton, when I was a freshman. She pushed me a lot.”
Jones wanted to make sure one more got credit for her success.
“God,” Jones said. “Without him I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this.”
Micah Jones Stats
Freshman Stats ‘09-10
32 games, 419 Pts, 180 Fgs (57%), 59 Fts (52%), 290 Rebs, 110 Blocks, 49 Steals, 49 Assists
2nd Team All-Tournament (NTC), 2nd Team All-Conference (NTC), 1st Team Dieterich Holiday Tournament, 1st Team Sandoval Invitational, Effingham Daily News Area Best 1st Team, Decatur Herald & Review Area Best 2nd team
Team Honors ‘09-10
3rd NTC Tourney, 1st Dieterich Holiday Tournament, 1st Sandoval Tournament, 2nd in Conference, Regional Champs, Sectional Champs, Super-Sectional Champs, 4th in State (26-6)
Sophomore Stats ‘10-11
25 games, 500 pts, 218 Fgs (%7%),64 Fts (54%), 276 Rebs, 58 Blocks, 42 Steals, 70 Assists
1st Team All-Tournament (NTC), 2nd Team All-Conference (NTC), 1st Team Dieterich Holiday Tournament, 1st Team Sandoval Invitational, EDN Area Best 1st Team, EDN MVP, H&R Area Best 1st Team, H&R MVP, Shelbyville Daily Union Winter female Athlete of the Year, 2nd Team IBCA All-State
Team Honors ‘10-11
2nd NTC Tournament, 1st Dieterich Holiday Tournament, 1st Sandoval Invitational, 2nd in Conference (NTC), Regional Champs, Sectional Championship loss, 22-4
Junior Stats ‘11-12
32 games, 511 pts, 223 Fgs (52%), 65 Fts (63%), 385 Rebs, 74 Blocks, 69 Steals, 155 Assists
MVP Conference Tourney (NTC), 1st Team All-Conference (NTC), 1st Team Dieterich Holiday Tournament, 1st Team Highland Tournament, EDN Area Best 1st Team, H&R 1st Area Best 1st Team, 1st Team Champaign Gazette All-State, SDU Winter Female Athlete of the Year, 1st Team IBCA All-State, 1st Team AP All-State
Team Honors ‘11-12
1st NTC Tournament, 1st Dieterich Holiday Tournament, 5th Highland Tournament, 2nd in Conference (NTC), Regional Champs, Sectional Champs, Super-sectional Champs, State Runner-Ups, 29-4
Jones Career Stats (3 years)
89 Games, 1430 pts, 621 Fgs (54%), 188 FTs (56%), 951 Rebs, 242 Blocks, 160 Steals, 274 Assists