Sunday, Dec 21, 2014
Smithpeters Returns Home to Familiar Faces
CARTERVILLE -- If home is where the heart is, then Kyle Smithpeters is in the right place.
After spending a year as an assistant at Missouri State, the Harrisburg native returned to his roots this summer when he accepted his first head coaching job at John A. Logan College in July.
"I never thought in this short period of time I'd be back in southern Illinois by any means," he said. "I was very, very happy at Missouri State and I enjoyed my time there and planned on spending a long time there."
But the chance to bring his wife Carrie, who is also from Harrisburg, and their 11-month old son Tobey back to the area was something he couldn't turn down.
"It was an opportunity I just really didn't want to pass on," Smithpeters said. "I was more worried about looking back eight, nine, ten years down the road and thinking, 'Man, I really wish I would have done that.'"
Smithpeters isn't a stranger to junior college basketball. Kyle was an assistant at Logan for four years before leaving for Springfield last April. Prior to coaching, he suited up against the Vols while playing at Southeastern Illinois College. He later transferred to SIU and played under Chris Lowery before returning to the Falcons as an assistant in 2006.
"I've been very fortunate in this business to be close to home a majority of my career.
"Now, I don't know whether it will stay that way for long but you've just got to enjoy it and take advantage of it while you can."
Joining Kyle on his journey back to southern Illinois are two transfer players from the area. Marion product Aaron Adeoye decided to come home after a year at Ball State. Du Quoin's Connor Wheeler also made the choice to transfer after redshirting at Illinois Wesleyan last year.
"It was great coming home," Wheeler said. "I was born and raised in southern Illinois, I've grown up with basketball in southern Illinois, so to get to come back and play here is great."
"It was probably the hardest decision I've ever made in my life but I think it was one of the most important and one of the best I've made so far," Adeoye said.
Wheeler and Adeoye are two of five southern Illinois natives on the roster. Giving Smithpeters some familiar faces in his first year on the job.
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