Bradley basketball, Illinois State vying for Metamora’s intriguing 6-foot-6 prospect

Dave Eminian
Journal Star
Metamora’s Ethan Kizer dunks over a defender during a game last season in East Peoria. Kizer is a 6-foot-6 prospect who has received offers from Bradley and Illinois State.

PEORIA — Ethan Kizer is the next big thing coming from Metamora basketball.

And getting bigger.

"I've grown another inch since last season started," said the now 6-foot-6 wing who will be a junior in the fall. "Right now I'm working out and playing in summer games in Metamora, and working at my job."

That job is assisting guests at Sankoty Lakes, a wilderness retreat in Spring Bay.

Imagine seeing the tall Kizer, with long, blond hair, coming down the trail at you. Kind of like opponents on the court who've faced the extremely athletic dunk master, whose name hit the scene even before his high school career began — when video of one of his dunks from a Chris Paul Rising Stars camp went viral.

Kizer got his first college offer in April, from Bradley. His second offer followed soon after, from Illinois State. Now, he's a rising Peoria-area star with offers on the table from two local rivals.

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Ethan Kizer leaps over a fellow camper during the Chris Paul Rising Stars camp in 2018 — before Kizer's freshman year at Metamora.

"Those are the only two offers I've received so far," said Kizer, 16. "I'm thrilled to have those offers. When they made those offers I was blessed, it was so exciting.

"I'm waiting to see what happens next."

Metamora pipeline to Bradley

Bradley has a history with Metamora players, with Thomas Hall, Nate Kennell, Aaron Zobrist and Danny Adams all playing for the Braves. Metamora's Blake Mishler also played for ISU over a decade ago.

Ethan Kizer, Metamora

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"Ethan is a great kid, works so well with little kids, excellent in the classroom, comes from an amazing family — he's everything you could hope for and he's been a blessing for me," Metamora boys basketball coach Danny Grieves said. "Whoever he chooses is going to get a great kid. 

"It's all about whatever is best for him. But hey, Go Braves!"

Kizer will, of course, draw more offers before any decisions are made. And those offers are going to be numerous if he continues to improve his game.

Metamora’s Ethan Kizer defends Washington's Devon Vanderheydt during a game last season. Kizer is a 6-foot-6 prospect with offers from Bradley and Illinois State.

Improving his prep game

The IHSA staged an abbreviated season as the prep sports world played through a pandemic, first delaying the season from fall to spring, then settling for a shorter schedule and no playoff games.

Kizer made the most of that season — his sophomore campaign — during which he played as a point guard and at forward. He was a unanimous first-team Mid-Illini all-conference selection. He averaged 16.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.8 assists. He hit 53.7% of his field goals and 44 percent from 3-point range. He was a Class 3A IBCA first-team all-state selection and honorable mention pick from the AP.

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"I've been to a lot of Bradley games — never been to an Illinois State game but I'm going to go to one next season," Kizer said. "I'm just really grateful that I got an offer from both of them.

"I hope I get more offers, too. I'm working on my strength, getting ready to start my AAU season in July. It's going to be a big year for me."

He's going to play AAU ball for Midwest Prospect Academy.

Basketball is his life

Basketball has been his first love almost since he could walk. He has Wisconsin and Bradley sweatshirts in his room, and when he watches an NBA game he's looking for Kevin Durant.

"I love the way he plays," Kizer said. "I see a lot of myself in him. I'm going to try to steal some of that."

He's learned the game from experience playing against older Metamora stars, too.

"I played with Thomas Hall and Nate Kennell when I was a kid," Kizer said. "I'd play pickup games with Kennell, and it was a struggle.

"There were some lessons learned by me there. But it's made me better."

Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men's basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for Reach him at 686-3206 or Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.