Graduation was fast approaching for Annapolis' Jourdan Stickler, but the 6-foot-4, 190-pound shooting guard entered this week with his post-high school plans completely up in the air.
Several Division I programs expressed interest in Stickler during his first-team All-Metro senior season with the Panthers, but the wait for scholarship offers continued through the spring.
"I don't know if surprised would be the right word, but definitely disappointed," Stickler said about his lack of offers. "I'd see a lot of my friends who played ball for other schools already committed. I kind of just wondered when it was going to be my time."
Stickler's time turned out to be Tuesday – two days before Annapolis High's graduation. On an official visit to Morehead State, Stickler received his long-awaited scholarship offer and committed on the spot.
"It feels like a weight is lifted off my shoulders. I feel great right now," Stickler said. "I had a lot of people like [coach] Eric Elston and my parents. They kept telling me to push through. Good things will happen. God will bless you, and he did. I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I think it did."
One of the most consistently interested recruiters of Stickler during his senior season was Mississippi Valley State assistant coach Brian "B.J." Ellis. When Ellis followed head coach Sean Woods to Morehead State – which lost coach Donnie Tyndall to Southern Miss – the recruitment continued. Stickler was invited to take a trip to Morehead State this week.
Stickler didn't know much about Morehead State before Ellis started recruiting him, but he quickly discovered that the Ohio Valley Conference program made the NCAA tournament in 2009 and 2011. That, and his relationship with Ellis, was enough to spur Stickler's interest in seeing the campus in Morehead, Ky.
"It's good," Stickler said. "The weather is nice, up in the mountains. It's very rural, but I like it. [The] people are nice, campus is beautiful. … [It's in] the foothills, close to an hour away from Lexington in the Daniel Boone national forest."
Stickler, who transferred to Annapolis from Oak Hill (Va.) for his senior year and averaged 25.6 points and 8.1 rebounds, is joining an Eagles team that went 18-15 last season and finished 10-6 in conference. Stickler said the coaches think he will make an immediate impact.
"They like the way I shoot the ball. Very efficient," he said. "They told me I can come and make shots, work hard. They can see me playing. They said they need a shooter. I like to think that's what I'm best at."
If not for Morehead State's offer, Stickler isn't quite sure what he would have done. Morgan State had recently entered his recruitment, so staying close to home might have been an option. He wasn't interested in going to a prep school or junior college, but he did consider "non-basketball options" like the military. Thanks to Morehead State, Stickler said it "feels great" that he won't have to think about contingency plans any more.
"Honestly, I feel so good, I think I'm probably going to drop a couple tears at graduation. I almost did right when I committed," Stickler said. "It's just been a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I'm so happy that it finally came through. Everything is coming together."