Northern Illinois just felt right to HighsmithPublished 4:55pm Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Heading into his official visit to Northern Illinois University two weekends ago, Dowagiac senior Dontel Highsmith had no idea he would be making a verbal commitment to the Huskies.
He had already taken an unofficial visit and kept them on his radar as he continued the recruiting process that began in earnest when he was a freshman.
“Northern Illinois was always in the back of my mind,” Highsmith said. “The atmosphere is great and the people are great. The first time I went there I had a good feeling about it. Then the second time, when I got home I was like this is the place I want to be.”
He was recruited by many schools, including nearly the entire Mid-American Conference, which he will call home the next four years.
The 6-foot-3 point guard led the area in scoring last season with an average of 27.8 point per game. Highsmith also averaged nine rebounds, four assists and four steals. But the way the season ended, with the Chieftains being upset in the districts by South Haven, left a bad taste in his mouth.
Highsmith said that he was glad to get the recruiting process wrapped up prior to the beginning of the season so that he can focus all his attention on his goal of getting Dowagiac back to the Breslin Center at Michigan State.
As a sophomore, Highsmith helped the Chieftains reach the Class B state semifinals before being knocked out of the tournament by Muskegon Heights.
“As soon as we stepped off the court that was my motivation,” Highsmith said of the loss to the Rams.
Highsmith, who also plays football and runs track, still has some other unfinished business on the basketball court this winter.
He is just four points short of tying Edgar Wilson for the career scoring mark of 1,371 points.
The Huskies, who are coached by former Michigan State player and assistant Mark Montgomery, were 5-26 last season, his first at Northern Illinois.
Highsmith also noted that by picking the Huskies, he’s still close enough for family and friends to check out a game or two.
“That’s another great thing about it,” he said. “Everybody can come watch some home games or wait until I go play Western (Michigan) to come visit.”