BETHALTO – Next stop is the Show-Me-State for Jakob Lowrance of Civic Memorial High School.
The 6-foot-8, 265-pound Lowrance, a senior center for the Eagles, officially signed his college basketball letter of intent Wednesday with Central Missouri of Warrensburg.
The NCAA Division-II Mules of the 14-school Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Conference captured a national championship two years ago. UCM finished 25-7 the past season.
“I’m excited about it, happy to make it official and have everything in writing,” Lowrance said of signing with the Mules. “I visited the school and liked the campus. Academics are a high priority there, but athletics are important, too.
“There’s a chance to win a national championship and a ring there. That’s the ultimate goal.”
CM certainly liked the way Lowrance anchored the program during his stellar career with the Eagles. He emerged as the leading rebounder and fourth-leading boys’ scorer in school history. Only Dave Taynor, Stephen Jones and Dustin Maguire, respectively, scored more points.
“Jakob had a great career," CM coach Doug Carey said. “He was really helpful to our program and we improved every year. We won nine games his freshman season, 14 when he was a sophomore, 18 as a junior and 19 this year.”
The past season, the Eagles also secured their first regional championship in 22 years. They finished 19-12, losing to eventual Class 3A state runner-up Belleville Althoff in the Carbondale Sectional.
“The regional championship was really a big thrill,” Lowrance said. “Winning it was something I wanted to accomplish before I graduated.”
He averaged 19.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in garnering plenty of postseason honors. Lowrance, the MVP of Saturday’s Illinois-Missouri all-star game at Alton High, was named the AdVantage News Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year.
“Jakob was the cornerstone of our program,” Carey said. “He put in a lot of work and time on his own. He’s a great kid and a smart kid.”
Lowrance’s extra work enabled him to become a reliable 3-point shooter. He made 35.5 percent of his treys, giving him the ability to score inside or outside.
“I really worked on that,” Lowrance said of his long-distance shooting. “I started getting better and better with it and had shot more consistently my senior season.”
He also considered attending University of Illinois at Springfield and Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., but he fell in love with Central Missouri, about 35 miles east of Kansas City.
So Lowrance is kicking up his heels to become a Mule.
“I’m supposed to be on campus June 15 and start school in August,” said Lowrance, planning to major in business. “I’m looking forward to start working toward a great season this winter.”
Before Lowrance heads to Missouri, he will undergo surgery Thursday on his right knee. He sustained a meniscus tear early in the season and delayed any surgery on it until late April.
Despite playing on a gimpy knee, Lowrance gave the Eagles what they needed time and time again in 2014-15.
“He was really tough to guard this season,” Carey said. “Jakob was a roly-poly kid as a sophomore, but he kept improving each year.”
Lowrance plans to carry that work ethic and improvement package with him to UCM, his future hoops home.
“I’m officially a Mule,” Lowrance said.