ELKHART — Joe Godfread’s somewhat nomadic ride of late will continue next fall, but what matters now is that it’s also a full ride.
Godfread, Elkhart Central’s senior move-in center who led the area in blocked shots this past high school basketball season, has signed a full-ride scholarship to continue his academic and playing careers at East Central University, an NCAA Division II school in Ada, Okla.
“Actually, never heard of it before I got some mail from them,” Godfread confessed Thursday, “but it’s a good college and a good academic situation. I really liked it when I visited.”
East Central coach Mac McConnell loved when the 6-foot-8 Godfread visited, just last week.
“It’s a puzzle to me,” McConnell said Thursday of why Godfread didn’t attract more collegiate interest than he did. “I know the team he played for this year didn’t win a lot, and I know he moved (from Evansville North) before the season — sometimes the colleges lose track of those guys, and sometimes those guys take awhile to fit in at their new schools — but we worked him out when he visited, and I’ll tell you, if I was still at the University of Montana (as an assistant), I think I’d want him playing Division I for me. So I’m thrilled, he’s going to come play Division II for us.”
McConnell says it’s only because ECU is DII that rules permitted him to work out Godfread for himself. A DI school would not have been allowed to conduct such a workout, according to the coach.
“We put him with some of our guys, and I was like, ‘Whoa,’” McConnell said. “He’s got a lot of upside, a lot of potential. Just in a few hours, we were able to teach him some things, so I think he’s going to keep learning. He’s also 6-8, and might get taller, and he does have some pretty good genes.”
Godfread is the son of former University of Evansville great Dan Godfread, who played briefly in the NBA.
Joe Godfread, who plans to pursue pre-med at ECU, said Thursday he has not seen his father in about six years. His parents are divorced.
“Mainly myself, and my mom (Rachelle) has been a great help,” Godfread said of what has helped foster his basketball development. “That and just studying certain players on tape.”
In his lone season with coach Matt Windy’s Blue Blazers, Godfread averaged 6.3 points and a team-leading 5.8 rebounds to go with his area-pacing 2.6 blocks in 23.8 minutes per game. He shot 48 percent from the field, 78 percent at the line and earned an Elkhart Truth All-Area honorable mention nod.
“I just tried to stay positive, and I think I adjusted pretty well,” Godfread said of going to a new high school for his final season.
At Evansville North, he played varsity each of his three seasons, but was never a full-time starter.
Godfread says he and his mom moved to Elkhart to get closer to extended family.
“It’s definitely a great thing,” Godfread said of earning a full scholarship. “It feels good.”
IUSB, IU East in Richmond, Elmhurst (Ill.) and Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich., were other schools that made varying offers.
The ECU Tigers went 6-20 this past season, 3-13 in the Great American Conference. McConnell took over as interim coach in November and has since had the interim tag removed.
“We’re going to be an over-hauled team next year,” McConnell said. “We’re signing five or six really good high school kids and we’ve got two transfers coming from the Big 12. We’re going to build something.”