Piotrowski, 7-foot-2 Player, Anthony Johnson Sign to Play at EIU


Published on April 30 2013 11:23 am
Last Updated on April 30 2013 2:10 pm
Written by Millie Lange

CHARLESTON, Ill. – Eastern Illinois men’s basketball coach Jay Spoonhour announced the signing of what could be the tallest player in Panther men’s basketball history with the addition of 7-foot-2 Mat Piotrowski.

Piotrowski signed a national letter of intent with the Panthers on Monday after playing last season at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville.  He helped the program post a 22-11 record.

Piotrowski is from Port Republic, New Jersey having played his high school basketball at Atlantic Christian School.  He began his career at Boston University before transferring to SWIC last year.  As a senior in high school he averaged 14.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 6.4 blocks per game.  He rated 89 by ESPN as a prep player becoming a McDonald’s All-America nominee.  He earned first team NCSAC All-American and NJ Hoops All-State honors as a senior.

“The first thing that strikes you about Mat is his size.  However he is more than just a big guy, he can play the game” said Spoonhour.  “He has a lot of other intangibles that impress you.  He has a tremendous knowledge of the game.  He is a really good post player that can pass and defend.  His size is one of his strengths as a basketball player.  We feel very fortunate to get him as a member of our program.”

The junior center comes from a basketball family.  His father Tom is a former 7-foot-1 center at LaSalle that played one season in the NBA for the Portland Trail Blazers.  His brother Luke currently plays at Richmond.  Both brothers played for their father Tom at Atlantic Christian School where Mat helped the program win a pair of conference titles.

The signing of Piotrowski gives the Panthers two new big men added to the roster for next season.  Chris Olivier (6-foot-8) was a mid-year transfer from Northern Iowa that will be eligible following the fall semester.  The Panthers signed Wisconsin (Appleton West HS) wing Jake Verhagen in November.

EIU advanced to the Ohio Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament this past season in Spoonhour’s first season as head coach.  It was EIU’s first OVC Tournament appearance since 2010.

Coach Spoonhour added his second recruit of the spring signing period as Anthony Johnson from nearby Oblong High School signed with the Panthers program.

Johnson helped lead Oblong to a pair of IHSA Class 1A Regional Championships including a loss in the Sectional finals this season during a 21-12 campaign for coach Brent Harper.

Johnson led Oblong in most statistical categories finishing with 24.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.6 steals per game.  At 6-foot-5 he played both guard positions for his high school team.  He finished his prep career as the school’s leader in scoring with 1,990 points and rebounding with 801.  In December of his senior year he scored 51 points in a win over Martinsville.  Johnson’s 24.7 points per game average ranked third in the state of Illinois in 2013.

Johnson was named the Decatur Herald & Review Area Player of the Year while earning fourth team All-State 1A/2A honors by the IBCA and honorable mention All-State honors by the Associated Press.

“We are thrilled that Anthony is coming to EIU.  There is little question about Anthony’s toughness and willingness to work,” said Spoonhour.  “The past two seasons at Oblong High School were their most successful in about 60 years.  Anthony, his teammates and his coaches should be very proud of what they have accomplished.  We couldn’t be happier that he has chosen to be a Panther.”

Johnson becomes the third player to sign with the Panthers this season joining center Mat Piotrowski (Southwestern Illinois College) and wing Jake Verhagen (Appleton West HS – Wis.).   The Panthers added forward Chris Olivier as a mid-year transfer from Northern Iowa.

EIU advanced to the Ohio Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament this past season in Spoonhour’s first season as head coach.  It was EIU’s first OVC Tournament appearance since 2010.