New Coach Ryan Pedon Has High Hopes For Illinois State Men’s Basketball
Written by WZND Newsroom on March 17, 2022
Photo courtesy ISU Althletics
NORMAL Ill.- Ryan Pedon was officially introduced as Illinois State’s new head basketball coach last week. Pedon was the lead assistant at Ohio State under Chris Holtmann since the 2017 season.
Prior to his tenure in Columbus, Pedon spent time at Illinois as the assistant to head coach John Groce as well as assistant stints at Butler and Toledo among others. With 21-years of coaching experience, Pedon is bringing plenty of Midwest connections to Normal and he’s got a clear vision for the future of the Redbird basketball program.
“My message today to Redbird nation is simply this – it’s time to get our swagger back,” Pedon said. “My vision for this program is to become a consistent standard of excellence on the court and off in the Missouri Valley Conference, and in doing that, becoming a player on the national stage once again.”
In order to make that vision a reality, Pedon plans to attack the recruiting trail hard and thinks the location of Normal is in the center of a basketball hotbed that will bring talent to campus.
“A rich talent pool all within 200 miles, major cities of Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Milwaukee,” Pedon said. “I can assure you we will exhaust all of our efforts to win recruiting battles within this 200-mile bread basket.”
And the recruiting has already started. The Redbirds added to their 2022 recruiting class back in February when they landed commitments from guards Takai and Tajuan Simpkins. The twins are considered top 15 players in the state of North Carolina where they play for a prep school, Liberty Heights Athletic Institute, in Charlotte.
Just this past week, the backcourt duo combined for 43 points in a state championship game. With the firing of former ISU head coach Dan Muller, their future status with the men’s basketball program was uncertain.
However, Pedon made it a priority to reach out to Takai and Tajuan before even stepping on campus. As of now, the Simpkins are still committed to the Redbirds.
“I’m judging our program’s success based on how we’re able to develop our players and how well we’re able to maximize what we have in that locker room,” Pedon said. “I have a belief and philosophy you do that and do the right things over and over and stack great days upon one another. And I have a faith and belief great things will happen from there.”
The road back to the top will not be easy and a lot of work needs to be done, but Pedon is determined to bring life back to an Illinois State program with a passionate fanbase to go along with a rich basketball history.