June 24, 2024 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Pence finds future home with Illinois State men’s basketball

Folks in St. Joseph have seen Ty Pence grow up before their eyes.


From a literal standpoint to his development on the basketball court.


The St. Joseph-Ogden High School senior will stay close to home with his next basketball
destination once his time with the Spartans ends in 2023.


The 6-foot-6, 195-pound wing recently verbally committed to play college basketball at Illinois State after holding double-digit Division I offers during the recruiting process.


“It is close to home, so I will be able to play in front of my family and friends, which is very
important to me,” said Pence, who plans to major in either sports management or business at Illinois State. “It was more of a family decision. We talked about it a lot, and in the end, we all decided that ISU was the best fit for me.”


Pence has already topped 1,000 career points at SJO in his first three seasons, and he
averaged 23.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists last season with the Spartans.

SJO finished 23-10 last season and won a Class 2A regional title, the first for the program since 2018.


At Illinois State, he’ll join a new coach in Ryan Pedon. The former Ohio State and Butler
assistant coach, who was also part of the Illinois staff for two seasons under John Groce in the
mid-2010s, is about to embark upon his first season with the Redbirds for the 2022-2023
season.


“I have a really good relationship with the coaching staff,” Pence said.


By the time Pence arrives at Illinois State for the 2023-24 season, the SJO product is optimistic he can help the Redbirds turn their program around. The Redbirds haven’t reached the NCAA tournament since 1998, last posted a winning record during the 2018-19 season and last played in a postseason event in the 2017 NIT.

For now, though, Pence is relieved to have the nearly two-year recruiting process complete
since Western Illinois became his first D-I offer in October 2020. Other offers from the likes of
Illinois, Iowa State, Wake Forest, Butler, Belmont and Loyola Chicago ensued, among others,
but the in-state school won out in the end to land of the state’s more talented players in the
Class of 2023.


“The process was very hard,” Pence said. “It is more of a business, and that side of it is hard for a lot of people to understand. At some points in the process, I was very overwhelmed, but I tried my best to keep pushing through it and just enjoy playing basketball.”


With his AAU career complete after playing the past few summers with the Midwest Prospect
Academy and his college decision made, Pence can turn his attention to one final season with
SJO. The Spartans are set to open the season Nov. 23 against Linton-Stockton (Ind.) at the
Kevin Brown Memorial Tournament of Champions in Washington. SJO’s home opener is slated
for Nov. 29 against Cissna Park as part of the eight-team Toyota of Danville Classic that SJO
will host.


“It is a huge weight off my shoulders,” Pence said. “Now, I am able to just play basketball and
focus on getting better. I want to continue to improve my game, while making sure the Spartans are playing to the best of our abilities.”

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