April 26, 2013
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois men's basketball head coach Barry Hinson announced the addition of a trio of area players who will join the program for the upcoming 2013-14 season.
Harrisburg High School guard Tyler Smithpeters and Rend Lake College forward Bronson Verhines signed letters of intent on Friday to play for the Salukis. Verhines' younger brother, Dawson, will also transfer to SIU from Rend Lake and join the team as a walk-on. Bronson will be a senior at SIU, while Dawson will be a junior.
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Smithpeters led Harrisburg to the Class 2A state championship last season, averaging 17.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game. The first-team All-State selection shot 40 percent from 3-point range for a Bulldogs team that went 33-1 under the direction of his father, Randy.
"We're really happy he's going to be a Saluki," said Randy Smithpeters, who has coached all five of his sons at Harrisburg in 20 seasons as the school's head coach. "Tyler is very versatile -- he handles the ball well, has really good shooting range, and is a great passer. He gets just as much satisfaction from assists as scoring."
Tyler is the youngest of five children and the brother of former Saluki player Kyle Smithpeters -- a walk-on guard who played on SIU's 2005 and 2006 NCAA Tournament teams. Kyle is currently the head coach at John A. Logan College in nearby Carterville.
"SIU has always been my hometown team," Tyler said. "I went to all the home games when Kyle played and the program has a great tradition."
Smithpeters joins a crowded Saluki backcourt that features returning players Desmar Jackson, Diamond Taylor, Anthony Beane, Josh Swan, Jalen Pendleton and Colby Long, plus incoming recruits Mike Balogun, Hunter Gibson and KC Goodwin.
At 6-foot-7 and 210 pounds, Bronson Verhines gives Southern a much-need front-court presence after sophomore starter Dantiel Daniels announced in March that he was transferring. He joins returning forward Davante Drinkard, redshirt freshmen Bola Olaniyan and Chase Heins, and true freshman Sean O'Brien to make up SIU's front court.
"Bronson played for an outstanding coach in former Saluki Randy House," said Hinson. "He's an Academic All-American, a mature kid, and we feel he's well-prepared to come here and contribute to our team."
Verhines averaged 9.7 points and 8.1 rebounds last season and led Rend Lake to the NJCAA Division II National Tournament championship, in which he was named the most valuable player. He also played one season at Kaskaskia College.
Dawson Verhines, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard, will be a walk-on for the Salukis next season. He averaged 7.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and shot 44.7 percent from 3-point range for Rend Lake last season.