Future Panthers earn postseason honors

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

The Eastern men’s basketball team’s recruiting class for the 2015-16 season was awarded with postseason honors last week.

All four of the incoming players were honored for their outstanding play this year, including three high school players being honored with first team all-state accolades. Those players include Lucas Jones, Marshawn Blackmon and Casey Teson.

Jones, who played at Shawnee Mission East High School in Kansas, earned first team Class 6A honors, after averaging a double-double every game season with 17 points and 11 rebounds per game.  Jones has started since his sophomore year, which included a run to the Kansas state championships, where his team finished fourth.

Jones’ high school coach Shawn Hair knows Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour, having received his master’s degree from Southwest Missouri State, now Missouri State, where Spoonhour’s father Charlie was the head coach at the time.

“I’ve known Coach Spoonhour for a long time,” Hair said. “He’s been watching Lucas play AAU the last few years, and when he visited, he completely sold Eastern to him.”

Spoonhour said that Jones’ ability to make plays is what spurred him to sign the 6-7 forward.

“Lucas is very tough, active kid,” said Spoonhour. “Fundamentally, he has the ball skills to make the right plays, and knows the plays to make.  I am really looking forward to having him here.”

Spoonhour’s two Missouri recruits, Blackmon and Teson, earned first-team all-state honors at the 5A and 4A levels.

Blackmon, a 6-4 swingman, played at Fort Zumwalt South High School in St. Louis, while averaging 22 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He ranked 8th in the Metro area in scoring and 20th in rebounding, while leading his team to a Sectional birth this season.

“Marshawn’s a hard-working, athletic guy,” Spoonhour said. He works real hard at all areas of his game and he’s willing and able to do the dirty work required for his team to win.”

Blackmon will join an Eastern roster next season that includes fellow St. Louis players freshman Cornell Johnston and leading scorer in junior forward Trae Anderson. Blackmon scored 24 points in a matchup with Teson and his high school of St. Charles.

Teson hit a game-winning layup after stealing the ball at midcourt, in a 99-97 double overtime victory over Blackmon’s Bulldogs. Teson scored 35 points that night and broke the school’s career scoring record of 1,754 points.

He shot 41.3 percent from three point range this season, while leading the Pirates to a Class 4A State Championship. In that game, the Pirates trailed by 21 points, but were able to mount a comeback to win the championship for the first time since 1957.

Teson finished with a game-high 35 points, including a state record 29 points in the second half.

  “Everybody likes guys that make shots, and Casey can certainly do that,” Spoonhour said. “I wouldn’t say he is just a shooter, though. He scores in a many ways and he handles the ball and passes as well as anyone. “

Junior college transfer A.J. Riley will arrive at Eastern after a stint with John A. Logan College. Riley led the Volunteers to the opening round of the National Junior College Athletic Association’s national finals, where they were defeated by Cape Fear.

“A.J. can do a variety of things including ‘point-guard plays’ regardless of where he is playing on the floor,” Spoonhour said “He can drive it, score in the post and he is a really good rebounder.”

Riley, of Peoria, scored 14 points that game, and averaged 9.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game during the season.  He scored 19 points in the Volunteers upset of No. 1 ranked Vincennes University to reach the NJCAA Tournament.

Blake Nash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]