In the SIU men’s basketball springtime recruiting banquet, the Salukis grabbed two junior college players to beef SIU’s chances this coming season.
First to sign was combo JUCO guard Eric McGill of Panola College. Next, was the signing of 6’ 10” 230-pound power forward/center Kavion Pippen.
The Three Rivers Community College star Pippen averaged 11.6 points and 7.3 rebounds and blocked two shots per game for the Pirates. This signing was a big relief for SIU head coach Barry Hinson for a number of reasons. The first reason was to get fans off his back.
Hinson said people at the grocery store kept asking him about when he would be able to sign a big man. It got to the point where he thought about putting a bag over his head to avoid the question. Problem solved. With the signing of Pippen Wednesday, he can show his face again.
“We had a specific need on the interior,” said Hinson about only having one experienced frontcourt player back before Pippen’s signing. “Kavion can come in and contribute immediately.”
By contribute, Hinson means a multitude of things.
“We haven’t had a guy in our program for a long time — a true center — who can play with his back to the basket, defend and score,” Hinson said. “We think Kavion’s upside is incredible.”
Also, his shot-blocking ability almost rivals current returning center Thik Bol.
This is a seminal signing for that reason. This past year when Bol rested, most opposing teams immediately looked to go inside and score. Now, Pippen and Bol can alternate — always giving SIU at least one rim protector looming in the paint.
You probably recognize Kavion’s surname. In fact, he is the nephew of former Chicago Bulls great Scottie Pippen. SIU assistant Anthony Beane, Sr. mostly recruited the Hamburg, Arkansas native.
Another Pippen helped, too. No, not Scottie. It was Scottie’s daughter, Kavion’s cousin Taylor Pippen, who played volleyball for the Dawgs a few seasons ago.
“Her family relationship with Kavion helped her (recruit him to SIU),” said Hinson. “Taylor was a wonderful ambassador for our university.”
As for McGill, his signing may be a bit of a surprise to those who have not followed what Hinson has said about wanting to play multiple point guards in one lineup.
“I always have said if we could get to a point where we could play three point guards at one time, we would try it,” Hinson said.
The past problem with this philosophy was that the point guards on the team were too short to match up with taller defenders.
But now SIU has 6’ 2” Aaron Cook, 6’ 4”, St. Louis transfer Marcus Bartley and now McGill that matches the height of the 1-3 spot guys they had this past year — with one big exception. They are the same size as this past year’s lineup but all of them can play the point guard position.
McGill averaged almost six assists per game for Panola this past season. Defensively, his long arms accounted for nearly two steals per game. He can score, too. He averaged 12 points per game, but had 20 points each in two post-season wins.
But his best game may have been in Panola’s four-point loss in the NJCAA NationalTournament. McGill had 10 points and 11 assists.