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Javon Pickett jumps to SLU from Mizzou for final season

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Mizzou loses to top-ranked Auburn 55-54

Mizzou guard Javon Pickett drives to the basket past Auburn's Allen Flanigan in the second half at Mizzou Arena in Columbia on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

St. Louis University began filling the holes on its roster Monday when the career of Belleville’s Javon Pickett came full circle with his commitment to the Billikens for his final season of eligibility.

Pickett originally signed with Illinois but had a change of heart and ended up at Missouri, where he played four seasons. Now the 6-foot-4 guard will end up finishing his college career near his hometown.

He averaged a career-high 11.1 points last season and 8.0 over his four years with the Tigers. He played in 119 games, starting 84.

The commitment came on Pickett’s Instagram account and he later confirmed the decision following a weekend visit. SLU is unable to comment until he has signed.

“I had a good relationship with the (Billikens) coaches, and when I got around the players I felt I could be comfortable and be myself,” Pickett said. “With the talent they have, you can see they have a lot of good pieces and could win their conference and get to the (NCAA) tournament. That’s really what I’m looking for.”

He will join a Billikens roster that has been dramatically reduced but has numerous players with whom Pickett will compete for time, including returners Gibson Jimerson, Javonte Perkins, Fred Thatch Jr. and Terrence Hargrove Jr. and incoming Sincere Parker.

He developed into Mizzou’s leading scorer in Southeastern Conference games, at 13.4 points per game. Pickett altered his game as the 2021-22 season progressed, turning away from 3-pointers after a slow start with his shooting and becoming more of a threat attacking the basket.

Pickett said his focus with the Billikens will be “playing fast, being aggressive and getting after it on the defensive end and being a vocal leader. Those are things I want to bring to the team, making sure everybody is accountable.”

Pickett will move from a Mizzou team that averaged 65.5 points last season to one that averaged 76.2. He said the decision by Perkins to return for another season played a role because the two have played together as far back as fourth grade.

SLU coach Travis Ford and his staff have been working to fill four spots created by transfers and the decision of Jordan Nesbitt to enter the NBA draft.

The team’s remaining needs would appear to be an inside player or two to complement Francis Okoro and a point guard to help Yuri Collins. Collins has announced his will go through the evaluation process for the NBA draft with the possibility of returning.

Pickett comes in the mold of SLU’s Thatch, a strong and physical guard, who became one of the the team’s most reliable players the second half of the season.

Pickett scored in double figures in 10 of Mizzou’s last 11 games. He scored a career-high 23 points against South Carolina, had 17 with six rebounds against Auburn and tallied 19, on eight-of-12 shooting, against national champion Kansas. He was a vocal defender of former Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin last season.

In reaching 950 career points, Pickett has shot 41.4% from the field, made 29.5% of his 3-pointers and 67.4% of his free throws.

He will join a growing mix of talented guards/wing players at SLU, including incoming freshmen Nick Kramer and Kellen Thames.

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