Another Glenbard West star is missing.
Last week, Braden Huff made a commitment to Gonzaga. Shooter Bobby Durkin and big man Ryan Renfro both recently enlisted in the military. This week Caden Pierce, a versatile 6-5 wing for one of the state’s top teams, signed up at Princeton.
With double-digit Division I offers after a strong, ultra-productive spring and summer with his high school team and the Illinois Wolves on the club circuit, Pierce ultimately chose the Ivy League school over Loyola. -Maryland and St. Thomas in Minnesota.
Pierce admitted he was a bit torn ahead of his official visit to Princeton, perhaps even “thinking another way” when he took the tour in late September. But the official visit reversed the course of his recruitment as everything became clearer. He became more comfortable, familiar and was impressed with all that Princeton had to offer.
“Once I got to the Princeton campus, I fell in love with it,” Pierce said. “I spent a lot of time with the guys on the team and felt great with them. I watched them practice a bit and felt my game would fit well into this system. They are a talented and competent group.
What also stood out for Pierce was Coach Mitch Henderson’s ability to develop players and how he believed the veteran coach was the right coach for him and his growth as a player.
“When I saw how Coach Henderson coaches and how proud he is in the development of the players, I thought it would really benefit me,” said Pierce. “I think I’m just starting to scratch the surface of the player I will hopefully be, and I think he would be the one who would develop me the best as a player.”
Then there’s always the academic part of Princeton and an Ivy League education. Pierce says this also played a big part in his decision as he went looking for the right mix of basketball and academics.
“Going to Princeton is not a four-year decision but a lifelong decision,” Pierce said. “The connections and networks I make at Princeton can prepare you for the rest of your life. ”
Pierce is the quintessential Swiss army knife in basketball. He fills out a stat sheet, can lead an attack in a pinch and is a difference defender who always has the task of stopping the opposing team’s best player.
But his biggest attributes go beyond numbers and his ability to play multiple positions. Pierce’s tenacity and pedigree can also be measured by how he plays and how much he earns.
Pierce helped lead the Hilltoppers, who went 16-1 last season, to a clean summer that included an unbeaten run at both Riverside-Brookfield Shootout and Ridgewood Shootout. He was instrumental in helping the Illinois Wolves win an Under Armor Association title.
Now, he will join a program from Princeton who competed in the NCAA tournament in 2017 and just finished a 14-13 season a year ago.
But his immediate goal is to win two state championships as a senior at Glenbard West – in basketball and golf.
Pierce, a two-time all-conference golfer in the West Suburban Silver, was part of the IHSA’s fifth-place finish in second year. This year, the Hilltoppers advanced to the IHSA State Finals this weekend after Monday’s qualifying round.
The star of both sports believes golf has had a positive impact on his game on the basketball court.
“I really think my mental game has improved a lot in basketball because of golf,” says Pierce. “I just feel like when you’re on the course you’re in your own bubble, don’t talk to a lot of people, compete in a different way. I think that teaches me patience and how to stay. focused, especially when you’re not playing the biggest, you stay focused and make the most of the moment.
Pierce is ready for a big time, whether it’s on the green this weekend or with a game up for grabs next March in a state tournament.
“I hope I get put in this situation,” Pierce said, laughing about the possibility of a putt or a shot under pressure. “It would be pretty cool to have a putt in play to win a state championship. I think it’s similar to shooting that free throw with the game on the line. ”