Sills comes home as a red wolf
Two weeks before Desi Sills’ engagement at Arkansas State University, Red Wolves goalie Marquis Eaton spotted his former Jonesboro High teammate at a local restaurant, believing the transfer to University of Arkansas, which was previously engaged in Auburn, was just a home visit.
But when the pair of locally prepared basketball stars spoke as Sills left the restaurant, he let Eaton know there was a chance he would stay in Jonesboro for more than just a visit.
“I told him that maybe I would come [to ASU]”Sills said at a Zoom conference Wednesday.” Maybe I could come. “
In response, Eaton issued a challenge: “Go ahead and do it then”.
Sills did – officially committing to coach Mike Balado and the Red Wolves on Tuesday.
“We’re going to be a dominant duo, I feel like,” Sills said of Eaton. “We had some magic in Jonesboro… I hope we will reconnect and bond again.”
The two-time Class 6A state champion joins ASU after three seasons at the University of Arkansas, where he averaged 7.7 points per game before entering the transfer portal after the 2020 season -21. It emerged that Sills would remain in the SEC when he enlisted at Auburn in April, but academic eligibility issues hampered that decision.
Now, 10 weeks after announcing his departure from Fayetteville, Sills is a red wolf with two years of eligibility remaining.
“I am extremely happy to welcome one of our own from Jonesboro,” Balado said. “[Desi] will continue to thrive in this program and continue to help this program create a culture and success that we have always sought. There is no one better we could add to this team than Desi Sills. “
Sills cited proximity to his home and family – especially his mother Shawna – among the draws that brought him to ASU and said he was sold on Balado, the program and the Fast Offensive System. which he would enter with the Red Loups.
After a season in Arkansas in which his minutes dropped from 31.1 to 20.6 per game, Sills sees the return home as an opportunity to once again “be the real Desi Sills.”
“I’m trying to go back to where I was in high school days and early Arkansas,” Sills said. “… I grew up and I grew up here, so I’m just trying to put this town on my back and get back on the map.”
ASU’s pursuit of Sills began after he entered the portal on March 31, with the Red Wolves joining a long line of programs interested in securing the 6-1 guard, who will wear No.3 with ASU as he did with the Razorbacks.
“Track him down,” Balado joked, describing the program’s approach to recruiting him.
ASU first struck off when Sills said yes to the Tigers on April 20. He declined to speak on Wednesday about the reasons he had not signed up for Auburn. Tigers coach Bruce Pearl told the Auburn Observer on Tuesday that “it was in Desi’s academic interest to pursue a different opportunity than Auburn’s.”
While Balado joked about the ongoing pursuit of his new guard, Sills was impressed with the program’s tough approach. Upon their recruiting, ASU sent a vision of how Sills would fit into the Red Wolves’ heavy and rhythmic offense and defined a role for him as ball manager, goalscorer and main perimeter defender. .
“They were real and genuine,” Sills said. “They broke a movie about how I could fit into a fast-paced game. They showed me what I could do and how we could win together in this system. I felt the love with that. “
The arrival of Sills marks the most significant change in an ASU squad that was largely spared by a team that finished 11-13, with Podcast confirming forward Tim Holland – who played 12.5 minutes per match in 2020-21 and left the program to complete his degree – as the only start.
Sills is expected to stand next to Eaton and veteran guard Christian Willis, adding another scoring threat as a career shooter 43.0% from the field. Sills’ defensive contributions could be just as important as an anchor for the Red Wolves.
“He’s a dog,” Eaton said of Sills. “He brings some intensity. I think he can be our main advocate – the guy you put on anyone when you need a save.”
The addition of Sills adds proven SEC talent to a rotation that already includes Eaton, Willis and reigning Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, Norchad Omier. While Balado was hesitant to lay out any predictions or expectations for next season based on his new arrival, he pointed to Sills’ commitment as a sign of growth.
“You can see where the talent level has gone from year 1 to year 5,” Balado said. “So I think this is our best team?” I do not know. I’ll let you know in about a month. On paper, is that it? Probably. But the paper doesn’t mean anything, right? “
Desi Sills will have another two years of eligibility at Arkansas State, where he will join Marquis Eaton, who was previously his teammate at Jonesboro High School. (NWA Democrat-Gazette / Charlie Kaijo)