Statesmen ink four in 2013 signing class

CLEVELAND, Miss. – Delta State men’s basketball coach Jim Boone has announced the addition of four student-athletes to the Statesmen family for the 2013-14 season. The 2013 recruiting class includes three commitments from the April-May signing period, and one commitment from November’s early signing period.


Willie Readus, a 6’6” 250-pound post player, joins the Statesmen after spending the past two seasons at Jackson State University. Readus, a native of Morton, Miss., played two seasons for the Tigers, averaging seven points and six rebounds per game in 2012-13. Among his notable performances as a junior were an 11-point, six-rebound effort against NIT-champion Baylor. Readus also scored eight points and grabbed 15 rebounds against Texas Tech.

“We are thrilled to welcome Willie to Delta State University,” said Boone. “He is a great fit for our program. Willie is a big, strong, physical post player who can score inside and really commands attention in the paint. We’re very excited about adding a player with Willie’s experience and skill set to our team.”

Prior to playing for Jackson State, Readus spent one season at Marion Military Institute where he played alongside returning Statesman Cornel Knight, and  2013 All-GSC and All-South Region selection Terry Leake. At MMI, Readus averaged nearly 11 points per game while pulling down a team-best 8.6 rebounds per game. He will have one season of eligibility remaining for the Statesmen.

JoeyKansas prep star Joey Lillis signed with Delta State on May 13. Lillis, a 6’8” forward out of Blue Valley West High School in Overland Park, capped off a magnificent high school career by leading his team to a state runner-up finish in 6A, the largest classification in Kansas.

“I can’t put into words how excited we are to have Joey Lillis as part of our Statesmen family,” said Boone, who will begin his 28th season as a college head coach this Fall. “We love Joey’s versatility, his work ethic and his winning pedigree. He played in a very good high school system that is similar to ours, and that familiarity will enable him to hit the ground running as a freshman.”

Lillis was named first team all-state by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association after averaging 14 points and nine rebounds for Coach Donnie Campbell’s Jaguars. His best games included a 23-point, 13-rebound effort against St. Thomas Aquinas and a 16-point, 19-rebound effort against Lawrence. Lillis played on the AAU circuit for the Kansas City 76ers.


While Lillis and Readus hope to bolster the Delta State frontcourt, Notre Dame (Ill.) College Prep standout Jake Maestranzi will join a talented Statesmen backcourt for the upcoming season. Maestranzi, a 5-9 point
guard, led the Dons to a 22-7 record this past season and a top four finish in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. The Bartlett, Ill. native averaged eight points and five assists per contest this season, with an assist-to-turnover ratio of five to one. Prior to competing for Notre Dame, Maestranzi played at South Elgin High School, where he averaged 12 points and six assists per game as a junior while sinking 56 three-pointers.

“Jake gives us a ballhandling guard who can get everyone involved and knock down the open perimeter shot,” said Boone. “He’s played against great competition in the Chicago area and comes from a winning background. He has the toughness and grit that we look for in all our players. We know Jake is going to come in and work extremely hard to make himself and our program better every day.”


Lillis, Maestranzi and Readus join early signee Devin Schmidt to comprise the 2013 recruiting class. Schmidt signed with the Statesmen in November before leading Sevier County High School to the best season in school history.

“Devin is a winner,” Boone said. “He was rated as the top prospect in East Tennessee. He is a tough-minded guard who scores in a variety of ways. He makes shots, he gets to the rim, and he gets to the free throw line.”

Schmidt, who scored over 1,600 career points for the Smokey Bears, averaged nearly 29 points per game as a senior for SCHS, which won a school-record 28 games this past season. The 6’4” guard was named MVP of the Rocky Top League in Knoxville last Fall.

“We are very excited about these four young men,” said Boone. “They all share the same hard-work, blue-collar mentality that our returning players do. They’ve all been successful and we expect that success to carry over to their careers at Delta State on the court, in the classroom, and in our community.”

They’ll join a Statesmen roster that returns starters Knight, Jack Madgen, and Mike Weems from the 2012-13 season, as well as key reserves Zelvin Smith, Brice Rowe, and Declan Harrick. In addition, 6’9” forward Mike Washington and 6’5” swingman Alister Chisholm will be eligible after spending this past season as redshirts.

“We can’t wait to get started,” said Boone, who has won nearly 500 games as a college head coach. “We are looking forward to building on the solid foundation