Connor Heaton was a leader of a great senior class at Central A&M High School. Now, Heaton and the Illinois Wesleyan Titans are hoping their freshman class of basketball recruits is equally as great.

The Central A&M Raiders 2020 Class were led by Heaton and Jacob Paradee in football to the state title game. Throw Griffin Andricks and crew in the mix in basketball and they went to the State Final Four.

The Raider football team made the playoffs the last 3 years, going 26-10. They were 5-5 as sophomores making the 1st round of the playoffs. They were 8-4 as juniors, making the quarterfinals (Elite 8). They were 13-1 as seniors and finished as Class A State Runner-ups.

Their basketball team was 102-28 their four years of high school. They were Elite 8 or better three years in a row. They were regional finalists as freshmen (17-11), then Elite 8 as sophomores (22-9), then Class A State 3rd Place as juniors (33-4), then Elite 8 again, as seniors, this year (30-4).

Heaton signed to play for the Titan basketball program, which was 19-9 last year (11-5 CCIW) with just two seniors. They finished in the CCIW Conference Championship game, losing to #4 Elmhurst, 78-72.

IWU had six men averaging double figures, led by junior guard Grant Wolfe of Effingham with 18 ppg. He was followed by sophomore guard Peter Lambesis with 12.3 ppg and red-shirt sophomore guard Keondre Schumacher (12.0 ppg). Junior guard/forward Doug Wallen had 11.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, per game.

Four upperclassmen guards averaged double figures and three will return. A guard/forward and another forward, both returning, also averaged in double figures. Wesleyan has a JV schedule. They were 8-5 last year.

It is a successful program. Two years ago, they were 18-9 (10-6 CCIW) and finished in the CCIW Semifinal game, losing to Augustana. Three years ago, they were 19-8 (12-4 CCIW) and the 15th ranked Titans lost in the CCIW semifinals to North Central, 70-64.

They were still selected to play the D-III NCAA Tournament for the first time in two years. They lost in the 1st round and lost to the College of Wooster, 72-68. It has been a successful program.

Heaton, as a senior, broke the Central A&M school all-time scoring record of 2,039 points in last January against Arcola.

Heaton led A&M in scoring when he came in as a freshman with 404 points (14.4 ppg). with 27 treys and 83 free throws. He led the team wit 163 boards. He added 42 assists and 44 steals. As a junior, he scored 675 points.

At A&M last year, as a senior, Heaton led the team in scoring with 735 points (21.6 ppg). He shot the most free throws, making 150 of 225 (66.7%). He also dished 136 assists and led the team with 116 steals. He averaged 21.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.4 steals as a senior season. He was 1st Team All-State Class A.

Along with Heaton is a 6-5 guard Ryan Sroka from Huntley High School. He averaged 16 points per game and 7 boards. He shoots 40% from the arc.

Another recruit with Heaton is Pryce Punkay (6-3, guard) from Champaign Central. He averaged 17.7 points per game and made 117 triples last year. He was IBCA 3rd Team All-State in Class 3A.

The Titan freshman class has height with a 6-8 Grant Hardy. He averaged 10 points, 7 boards, and 2.5 blocks at Grayslake Central. He can get up and down the floor and play different positions.

Evan Schneider is a 6-6, 210-pound, forward from Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis. He scored 11.6 points and grabbed 9.5 rebounds per game, a near double-double.

A 6-2 guard, Grant Taueg scored 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game as a senior. He was named Top 60 Indiana Senior as a defensive specialist.

More height comes with 6-9, 200-pound Nate Seputis from Lincoln Way-East High School. He posts up, but can step out and shoot.

Heaton Stats 2019-20 (Senior)

GP 34, Pts 735 (21.6 ppg), FG 51.2%, 3’s-27.7%, FT 150/225 (66.7%), Reb 8.7 rpg, Ast 136 (4.0 apg), Stl 116 (3.4 spg), TO 2.5 tpg, A/T 1.60, Blk .1 bpg

Heaton Stats 2018-2019 (Junior)

GP 34, Pts 675 (19.9 ppg), FG 48.5% (249/513), 3-Pt 28% (32/114), FT 77.1% (145/188), Reb 273 (8.0 rpg), Ast 149 (4.4 apg)

Heaton Stats 2017-18 (Sophomore

-Not available-

Heaton Stats 2016-17 (Freshman)

GP 28, Pts 404 (14.4 ppg), FG 147, 3-Pt 28, FT 83, Reb 163 (5.8 rpg), Ast 42 (1.5 apg), Stl 44 (1.6 spg)

John Curtis can be reached at john.curtis@shelbyvilledailyunion.com

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