April 24, 2009

D'Vonne Pickett Joins Three Other Guards as EWU Letter of Intent Signees

April 24, 2009

Rainier Beach High School 5-foot-10 guard D'Vonne Pickett has signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Eastern Washington University, joining two other state of Washington high school standouts in EWU's four-player recruiting class.

The other two in-state signees won 2009 state championships with their respective schools. Chris Holmes led Franklin to the WIAA State 3A title and 6-foot Jeff Forbes led Federal Way to the championship in the State 4A ranks. All three are guards, with the 6-3 Holmes earning second team All-State honors from the Seattle Times (all classifications) and first team All-State accolades from Associated Press.

The fourth signee announced by Eagle head coach Kirk Earlywine is Stevie Hedrick, a 6-foot-2 guard from Lake Land Junior College in Mattoon, Ill. Hedrick is a graduate of Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis, Ind.

All but Pickett signed with the Eagles last November during the early signing period. Earlywine expects to sign at least one more player this spring.

Pickett helped Rainier Beach finish 18-10 this past season, but a year earlier the Vikings were 29-1 and won the State 3A title. Abebe Demissie, who redshirted the 2008-09 season at Eastern, also played on that championship team, giving Eastern a total of four players in its program who have won Washington Interscholastic Activities Association titles.

"We've worked hard to re-establish contacts with the high school coaches in the state of Washington, with a specific concentration on the schools and players who are accustomed to winning," said Earlywine. "I think winning is a habit, and we now have four players in our program who have all won state championships on very good teams. And all of them have been very well-coached, which makes the transition into NCAA Division I a little bit easier.

"I couldn't be happier right now with this class -- especially those three in-state players," added Earlywine. "But we all need to realize they are all freshmen and there is a learning curve. I just don't think it's as sharp of a learning curve when you have players who are accustomed to winning and have been well-coached."

Pickett earned third team All-Metro League honors despite having his season cut short with a knee injury. He averaged 10.1 points in 16 games as Rainier Beach was 10-6 at the time of his injury. He had 16 points, 11 assists and eight steals in an 84-39 victory over Bainbridge in the second game of the season for the Vikings, who were ranked second in the state at the time. His teammate, LSU signee Aaron Dotson, played just five games because of a knee injury of his own.

"Their season was adversely affected by those two injuries and led to their uncharacteristic finish to the year," said Earlywine. "D'Vonne's knee is fine now and there will be no long-term effects. His senior season was not what he had hoped for and what it would have been for Rainier Beach without those injuries."

Besides earning All-State honors, Holmes also played for the 3A squad in the All-State series in March. He was also selected to play for Team Washington in the Northwest Shootout versus Team Oregon on April 18.

As a senior, Holmes averaged 12.6 points per game to earn first team All-Metro 3A League honors. He scored 20 more points on three occasions, including a season-high 26 in an 83-57 win over O'Dea on Jan, 9, 2009.

En route to earning State 3A All-Tournament honors, he scored 40 points in four tourney games, including eight in a 51-34 victory over Columbia River in the title contest. Franklin finished the season 28-1 overall and 14-1 in the Metro 3A League. The top-ranked Quakers finished the year with a 15-game winning streak after finishing 24-3 the previous season.

Forbes averaged 11.2 points per game en route to second team All-South Puget Sound League North Division honors. He scored in excess of 20 points on three occasions, including a season-high 24 late in the season against Central Kitsap and 23 early in the season against Auburn, which is coached by former Eagle standout Ryan Hansen.

He scored 38 points in four State 4A Tournament games, including five in a 62-54 win over Garfield in the championship game and 16 in a semifinal win over Kentridge. The Federal Way Eagles finished the 2008-09 season 27-2 and 14-2 in the SPSL, and won their final 16 games of the season.

As a junior, Forbes averaged 12 points a game as the Eagles finished fourth in the eight-team SPSL North Division. But he helped fuel a late-season run to the State 4A title game where Federal Way lost to two-time unbeaten state champion Ferris. Forbes scored in double figures in seven of his team's nine playoff games, including 17 in state tournament wins over Franklin and Decatur. His two free throws with 12 seconds left helped seal the stunning upset over second-ranked Franklin and Holmes, his future EWU teammate.

Hedrick played two seasons at Lake Land, which finished 16-14 his sophomore season under head coach Cedric Brown. In a 74-67 win over Olney Central, he scored 26 points and had seven rebounds.

While playing high school basketball for Mike Miller at Lawrence Central, Hedrick earned first team all-conference, second team all-county and second team All-North Top 40 in the state of Indiana. He also played in the Indianapolis City versus County All-Star game.

"Stevie Hedrick buys us a little time to allow the younger players in our program time to develop," said Earlywine. "He's physically and emotionally mature, and is able to play three positions, which gives us a lot of flexibility next year. He played in one of the premier high school programs in the state of Indiana. His game and what he does will translate right away to Division I -- I don't think there will be a big adjustment period for him."

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