New ISU basketball commit Avila keeps Chicago pipeline flowing

·3 min read

Oct. 24—One thing that's clear as the Josh Schertz era begins at Indiana State — the Sycamores will find talent in the southern reaches of Chicago.

The Sycamores earned another commitment from south of the Loop, this time on the Illinois side of the border. Highly-sought power forward Robbie Avila, from Oak Forest, Ill., made a verbal commitment to play for the Sycamores starting with the 2022-23 season.

Avila is one of the most accomplished verbal commitments the Sycamore program has received in a while.

Avila was Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette First Team All-State in Illinois for Oak Forest High School. In a COVID-19 shortened junior season, Avila averaged 25.8 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists for the Bengals while shooting 65% from the field.

ISU won an intra-Missouri Valley Conference battle for the 6-foot-8 forward. Avila had offers on the table from Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, Bradley, and an early offer from Loyola.

DePaul, Richmond, Kent State, Milwaukee, Lehigh, Cleveland State and Appalachian State also offered Avila. Purdue and future MVC member Belmont also showed interest.

ISU got in the mix after Schertz became coach. Early in the Schertz regime, ISU got a commitment from Gary point guard Quimari Peterson, who played for the same Chicago-based Meanstreets AAU program that also starred Avila. That connection didn't hurt once ISU saw Avila play in summer high school ball.

"Playing with [Peterson] and knowing him a lot helped a lot too," Avila said on Saturday, shortly after he revealed his college choice on his social media outlets. "I'm ready to join up with him and bring that Chicago style of basketball to Indiana State."

Avila made his official visit to ISU in September. That was when he knew he had a home.

"Everything about the basketball part was amazing, but it was also the environment and feel of home outside of basketball around the program. That atmosphere around the team and in the city was amazing to me," Avila said.

Avila is a stretch forward, which is just what Schertz's program seeks out. The ability to play in a NBA-style, spread-four-out system was another big lure for Avila.

"I think it fits perfectly and that's one reason I chose Indiana State. His offense allows me to showcase all of my skills, playing big and spreading it out," Avila said.

Avila doesn't just want his game defined by shooting and playing under the basket, though.

"My game is a post-stretch. I can spread it and shoot the three, but I can be a playmaker, like a guard, using my size to handle it for passes. Those are important parts of my game. I want to protect the rim on defense and guard the pick-and-roll," Avila said.

One feature that stands out for Avila is the goggles he wears when he plays. Meanstreets titled one of his Youtube videos "Fear The Goggles" and it's just another example of how the look Avila sports not only helps him visually, but also how he's used the goggles to give himself confidence and allowed him to stand out.

"I started wearing them when I was little. My Mom got tired of broken glasses, so she said I was going with goggles from now on. It started there. Playing basketball, my brother [Juan, who plays at Division III Loras College] joked that it was my trademark and he would never let me try contacts," Avila said.

"I built comfort with it and figured out — who cares what other people say? I'm just trying to play my game. When that Fear The Goggles Youtube video came out, that made it feel even more a part of who I am," Avila said.

By NCAA rule, Schertz cannot comment on Avila's commitment.

Avila is the first ISU commitment from a school in southwest Chicago's South Suburban League since Carl Richard (who also played for Meanstreets) committed to ISU in 2007. Richard played at Richards High School.

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