HERMITAGE, Pa. — Kennedy Catholic senior guard Ike Herster has been looked over for much of his high school career. Some of that is to be expected when playing with two big-time Division-I players, Oscar Tshiebwe (West Virginia), and Maceo Austin (Duquesne). Last year, alongside Austin and Tshiebwe, Herster and Kennedy Catholic won the PIAA 6-A state championship.
But this year, Herster has been the star of the show in Hermitage, Pa. The 6-foot-6 guard is averaging just under 28 points per game (most in District 10) for the Golden Eagles.
Right now, Herster has received scholarship offers from Robert Morris and Youngstown St. He obviously expects more coaches to be knocking on the door. But with his senior season winding down, the clock is ticking. Herster says that for him to get those Power 5 looks, he’ll probably have to play AAU this summer. It’s not common for high school seniors to play AAU after their high school careers are finished, but it’s getting more popular for guys like Herster, who is looking for that extra bit of exposure.
On Tuesday night, Herster played his final home game for the Eagles, while being able to show off his talents against a fellow Division-I prospect, McDowell four-star William Jeffress. Even though McDowell (18-3, 7-1) outlasted Kennedy (13-9, 5-3) in overtime, 46-38, Herster matched Jeffress for much of the District 10 battle. Herster finished with 22 points (18 in the first three quarters), while Jeffress finished with 20.
A Northwestern assistant coach was at the game watching Jeffress, but Herster showed that he’s right on the cusp of getting looked at from those types of schools as well.
“It’s fun playing against the best,” Herster said about matching up with Jeffress. “He’s a real good basketball player; he’s a high-major kid. I love competing with him because it makes us both better.”
Herster has several tricks in his offensive bag. In the opening minutes of the game, he came off a screen and launched up and made an NBA range 3-pointer, hit a floater over Jeffress, and then grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a turnaround 15-footer using the glass to perfection. He finished the game 7 of 14 from the floor.
The slow-paced possession game hurt his rhythm at times, but he showed off what he’s capable of even though he finished six points under his scoring average. Herster also finished with seven rebounds and stood tough and took a charge on Jeffress late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
“Right now, definitely the three-ball, I didn’t shoot too well tonight,” Herster said. “But what I’m going to work on is definitely my ball-handling and off the dribble (shooting).
While Herster is climbing up the school record in scoring, he’s still in touch with his teammates from last year like Austin and Tshiebwe, who can help him, not only in the recruiting process but also giving him a heads up on what to expect at the next level.
“They’ve seen it all,” Herster added. “When I talk to them, they just say it’s the little things, like ‘(Does) the coach really want you?’ and all that other stuff. So, it’s kind of good getting it from two of the best players in the country last year.”
At the moment, though, Herster wants to get his team back to its winning ways as they prepare for the playoffs.
“(We have to) come back strong,” Herster said. “We probably play Friday again. … Come out and let’s go on a run.”
On Friday, the Golden Eagles play their first playoff game at Grove City High School against Erie (11-11, 2-6). The winner of that matchup will play McDowell in the 6-A championship at Edinboro University on Tuesday, Feb. 18.