Area college athletes: Switch works for SIUC’s Fletcher | College Sports

The best may be yet to come for Armon Fletcher.

The SIU Carbondale junior has benefited from a position switch and looks ready to add an exclamation point to what had been a steady, albeit unspectacular first couple of years at the Missouri Valley Conference school.

About a month ago, the 6-foot-5 Fletcher, a product of the uber-successful Edwardsville High program, was moved to a power forward position after playing his first two-plus years at SIUC on the perimeter. The idea was to give the Salukis (11-9) a smaller, quicker look.

Since the move to forward, Fletcher is averaging 15.5 points and 5.9 rebounds. His MVC numbers are even better at 17.7 and 7.2. Those figures include a 32-point, 14-rebound effort during an 82-73 loss to Valparaiso.

“A lot of people don’t know that in high school I played the (center position),” Fletcher told siusalukis.com. “Even in AAU, I was guarding the biggest guy on the floor. Whatever the team needs me to do … I have the skills.”

Fletcher has proven to be a difficult matchup for most opposing forwards because of his quickness, ball-handling ability and perimeter shooting skills. He might be the most explosive athlete on the team.

“I try to use my size and quickness to my advantage,” he said. “The coaches really don’t want me posting up. … In the game at Valparaiso, I tried to make myself available and my teammates did a good job of finding me. I wasn’t even aware of how many points I was scoring.”

A year ago, Fletcher was named to the MVC most-improved team after averaging 11.1 points. There’s a good chance the postseason honors will continue this time around, too.

JOHNSON IS NAMED

TO MVC 25-YEAR TEAM

Missouri State senior outside hitter Lily Johnson (Lafayette) was one of 10 athletes named to the Missouri Valley Conference volleyball team helping celebrate 25 years of women’s sports in the league.

Johnson earned her spot on the anniversary team after collecting her third straight MVC player of the year honor and rewriting a major portion of the school record book.

“As soon as I went and saw Lily play (in high school), I thought, ‘This kid is ridiculously exceptional,’” Missouri State coach Melissa Stokes told the Springfield News-Leader.

Johnson appreciates what she has accomplished and the example she has helped set for the program, especially in the eyes of young players who flock to the games.

“It’s really something special,” Johnson said. “You have parents that come up to you and tell you how much it means. I don’t think they realize how much it means to us players.”

Among Johnson’s bevy of accomplishments at Missouri State were 6,610 career attacks, just 23 shy of the NCAA record; 2,293 kills, 19th in NCAA history; and playing in 519 consecutive sets, NCAA’s third-longest streak.

Johnson will be a member of the Bears’ inaugural beach volleyball team in the spring.

SANDERS, BEARS

RACK UP POINTS

Washington University senior forward Andrew Sanders entered the weekend with a streak of 24 consecutive games scoring in double figures.

Sanders, who leads leads the Bears (12-2) with an 18.3 average, dropped in 18 during a 113-75 victory last weekend over New York University. Washington’s point total was the program’s highest since a 125-74 win over Emory University in January 2000.

Washington U. is averaging 85.1 points, just 0.2 shy of the school record (85.3) established during the 1994-95 season.

AROUND THE AREA

Wide receiver Matt Quarells (Hazelwood Central) has transferred from Iowa to SIU Carbondale. Quarells, who will be a senior next season, played for two years at New Mexico before transferring to Iowa.

• Eastern Illinois senior guard Terrell Lewis (Ladue) is the ninth player in Ohio Valley Conference history with 1,000 points and 500 assists.

• Freshman Marvin Bateman (Althoff) is one of six players averaging in double figures for Greenville’s high-scoring basketball team. Greenville is averaging 125.2 points, which leads all NCAA divisions. The 6-foot-5 Bateman is averaging 11.7.

• One of the top returnees among Atlantic Coast Conference baseball teams is Notre Dame junior outfielder-pitcher Matt Vierling (CBC), who batted .330 as a sophomore. He also saved two games in 10 pitching appearances.

• St. Louis University senior guard Jackie Kemph has been chosen as a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award in NCAA women’s basketball. Kemph is among 30 candidates nationwide and the only representative from the Atlantic 10 Conference. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on “the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.” Kemph averages a team-leading 13.6 points for the Billikens (8-8).

• SIU Carbondale will add women’s soccer as a varsity sport in 2019.

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