MATTOON — Josh Jefferson’s whole goal of joining the Lake Land men’s basketball team was to draw the eye of NCAA Division I programs. It didn’t take long for the talented guard to accomplish that.

After his freshman season, Jefferson started to hear from D-I teams and then by the summer, an offer rolled in, and then another one and then another one. There was a good amount of interest for Jefferson.

He didn’t want the interest to distract from the team’s 2017-18 season, so he knew he had a decision to make. After weighing his offers, Jefferson went with the school he felt the most comfortable with, and last week he verbally committed to play for California State, Northridge.

“It’s a great feeling to accomplish a goal that I’ve had since I was a young kid,” Jefferson said. “I am ecstatic right now. I just want to thank Lake Land for the opportunity, my family and friends for always being there for me and pushing me; my teammates; and most of all God, because without Him, nothing is possible.”

Jefferson narrowed his choices down to Northridge, Albany, Cal Poly and Portland State. Northridge was one of the first to offer Jefferson and he made a visit there this summer to meet with coach Reggie Theus, a former NBA player and coach.

The visit sold Jefferson and made Northridge the front-runner.

“I felt like the coaches really care and know what they are talking about,” Jefferson said. “I liked the facility and I got along with all of the players. The coach, he’s a legend, and we couldn’t even go out to eat without people recognizing him. He knows his stuff. It’s a great fit and he’s got a lot in store for me. I couldn’t pass it up.”

Jefferson drew a good amount of interest because of the freshman season he had. He played in all 32 games and started in 26. He averaged a team-high 18.7 points per game and made a team-high 2.8 three-pointers a game. Jefferson shot 47.6 percent from long range and 48.6 percent from the field. He was 91.5 percent from the free throw line and Jefferson averaged 2.1 steals per game.

Jefferson went to a few camps in the offseason, too.

“(Lake Land) gave me the opportunity. I had a couple of other looks in the conference, but they really didn’t want to take a chance on me I guess,” Jefferson said. “The coaches at Lake Land really gave me my opportunity to showcase my talents. The coaches here always supported me, pushed me and never let me get big-headed. It’s been great here, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Now that Jefferson has made his decision, he can focus on the upcoming season.

Last year Lake Land went 14-18, including 9-9 in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference, in Brandon Colvin’s first season. It was a six-win improvement from the season before.

Jefferson is part of a strong sophomore class that’s back and Colvin brought in some impact freshmen. So the team has their sights set on a big goal this season, and that’s to make it to nationals in Hutchinson, Kansas.

“(The interest) gets to a point where it starts to get annoying and I just wanted to be focused on the main goal, which is winning the championship in Hutch,” Jefferson said. “Our only goal is winning a national championship and we don’t expect anything else.”

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Mike Monahan covers area sports for the JG-TC.

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