NORMAL – Colton Sandage grew up wanting to play basketball for Illinois State just like his older brother, Brandon Holtz.
Sandage finally gets that chance.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound guard announced Sunday night that he will play his final year with the Redbirds in the 2022-23 season. Sandage, a graduate of Bloomington High School who played the last two seasons in Western Illinois, will be the first recruit of new Redbird head coach Ryan Pedon.
“It’s getting pretty cool. That’s all I knew when I was growing up was Redbird basketball,” Sandage said. “We just want to get Redbird Arena packed again and jump and one of the best places to play. There will be an opportunity to do that with the new coaching staff.”
Sandage started all 31 games last season with Leathernecks. He averaged 13.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. match while shooting 43.7% from the field, 35.1% on 3-pointers (65 of 185) and 80% on the line. He scored a career-high 33 points against Ball State and lowered seven 3-pointers.
Pedon cannot comment on Sandage until he signs a financial aid agreement, which is expected to happen this week.
Sandage moved to WIU from Vincennes University, where he helped the Trailblazers win the 2019 national junior college championship.
After playing off-guard his first season at WIU, Sandage was moved to the case. Throughout his time at BHS and Vincennes, Sandage always played an off-guard spot to capitalize on his 3-point skill.
“We fought the first year at Western. We also had a rebuild there,” he said. “They threw me into the fire at point guard and I was relieved from there. It’s really about confidence. When I had the first few games, I knew I could do this at a high level. I kept producing, and it gave me all the confidence in the world. “
Sandage put his name on the transfer portal after Leatherneck’s season ended.
“I heard from a lot of schools, especially the first few days,” he said. “I had some visits planned, but when coach Pedon got in and hired his assistants, they attacked me hard and made me in a way a priority.”
Brandon Holtz played at ISU from 2005-09. Sandage was there looking at him, which turned up as he sat down with Pedon and his staff.
“We were in a meeting room and they have a big picture on the wall with ISU versus Bradley. Osiris (Eldridge) and all of them are there and the place was packed,” Sandage said. “He (Pedon) pointed to it and said, ‘You were here, weren’t you?’ I said, yes, I was destined for that fight. “
Sandage said that as a fifth-year senior, he hopes to become “a leader and key piece and (help) start a culture of how to do things right on and off the field and get a good program base developed”.
During his junior season at BHS, the Sandage Purple Raiders helped finish in third place in the 2017 Class 3A State Tournament. He signed with Texas-Arlington during his senior year at BHS after tearing his ACL while playing quarterback for the Raiders football team.
After a coach in Texas-Arlington before he arrived, Sandage decided to go to Vincennes.
Four ISU players have already entered the transfer portal – guards Antonio Reeves and Josiah Strong and strikers Alston Andrews and Abdou Ndiaye. Several Redbird players could write their names over the next few weeks.
Pedon has already hired two assistant coaches – Walter Offatt from Toledo and Andrew Dakich from Elon. Pedon is expected to name his third and final assistant sometime this week.
Photos: Illinois State welcomes new basketball coach Ryan Pedon
Watch now: New Illinois State basketball coach Ryan Pedon speaks to the media on Monday
Watch now: Illinois State AD Kyle Brennan introduces new basketball coach Ryan Pedon
Contact Jim Benson at (309) 820-3404. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_benson