BY PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
Bronson Verhines took a two-year hiatus from basketball before helping Rend Lake College to a national championship.
That success got Verhines noticed, and Wednesday the former Woodlawn player committed to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
“We won the national championship so that opened up a lot of doors for me,” Verhines said.
Rend Lake coach Randy House said SIU had been in contact with him about Verhines throughout the season. A couple weeks ago the school contacted Verhines directly. About a week ago, Verhines visited the school and worked out with the team.
“(Wednesday) morning they cleared all my academics through and my transcripts worked out all right,” Verhines said. “They offered, and I accepted on the spot.”
Verhines initially played with Kaskaskia College in Centralia for a season after high school before stepping away from basketball. He attended Rend Lake before going on to study at SIU-Edwardsville. He returned to Rend Lake this past season and played an integral role in the Warriors run to the NJCAA Division-II championship.
“There's no way I could have predicated that this could happen,” Verhines said. “Or that things would unfold like they have, but I sure am pretty happy and content with the way things have gone.”
Verhines averaged a double-double this season for the Warriors and was named to the national tournament's most valuable player.
“As a coach, it's a great honor and privilege to have kids who are capable of moving on to the next level of play,” House said.
Throughout Bronson's basketball career, he's played with his brother Dawson. The two played together at Woodlawn before teaming up for the Warriors. The trend could continue in Carbondale. Dawson will try to walk-on for the Salukis.
“It makes the process easier having my brother right there alongside of me,” Bronson said. “Throughout this year we've grown pretty close playing ball at Rend Lake.”