After a successful senior season, in which he improved in every statistical category from his junior year, Chester's Savion Smith is taking his game to the next level.
Smith signed a national letter-of-intent with Blackburn College in Carlinville on Wednesday, joining Chester volleyball's Alyssa Keith and Alexis McMath as those to become Beavers this fall.
"The coach (Steve Kollar) was just like Coach (Brad) Norman, basically," Smith said. "I've been playing three years with (Norman) and with (Kollar) having that same mindset, a little more enthusiastic about it, it sounded like a lot of fun to go there."
Smith will join another Chester alumnus, Jake Lochhead, on the Blackburn hardwood. Lochhead will be a senior this fall and started four games for a 12-13 Beavers team that ended its season on Feb. 18 with a 126-104 loss to Greenville.
"Talking to their coach, they're looking for a good 4 guy who can slash," Norman said. "So, I think they're gonna look to put him there first and then if he can develop his shot, he'll probably be a stretch 3.
"But their coach is really excited about bringing him in and using him for his athleticism."
Norman said Lochhead's presence could help Smith adjust to college basketball.
"Jake Lochhead's there and he's playing basketball and he'll be a senior there," Norman said. "He'll be able to kinda guide Savion a little bit and I think that will help Savion's transition period."
Smith led the Yellow Jackets with 15.7 points-per-game in 2016-17, also scoring a team-high 471 points in 30 games.
He was named a Black Diamond Conference West Division all-conference selection after the season and was also MVP of the season-opening Trico Pioneer Invitational.
In addition, Smith led the team in steals (61) and blocks (24), while finishing second to teammate Jake Golding in total rebounds with 179.
"I think he got better in the three years he was here," Norman said. "I think he got a lot better this year and I think he still has a high ceiling to where he's got a lot of potential to be even better than he was.
"I think overall though, he was a real good teammate, he was a very good defender, hard-nosed, and I think the whole senior class did a lot of good things while they were here the last four years."
Chester finished 20-10 last season, the second straight 20-win season for the Yellow Jackets.
Smith said he plans to pursue a Biology major at Blackburn, with the goal of becoming a zoologist. He was also considering McKendree University for football and Ottawa University in Kansas for track.
"During my junior year, whenever it was a little slow and a little rocky, I didn't think anything was going to come through," Smith said on playing at the next level. "Right around February, this (offer) came through and it felt good knowing I would be playing something I love to do at the next level and continue playing."