Pickett ball: College offers roll in for West Aurora’s Josh Pickett, but the junior guard isn’t resting on his laurels. ‘I still think I have more to prove.’

[Chicago Tribune] Pickett ball: College offers roll in for West Aurora’s Josh Pickett, but the junior guard isn’t resting on his laurels. ‘I still think I have more to prove.’

West Aurora guard Josh Pickett (4) drives against Oswego East's Mekhi Lowery in the Class 4A Joliet Regional championship game on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. (Jon Langham / The Beacon-News)

Need just one word to describe West Aurora’s Josh Pickett?

Try driven — both on and off the court.


And Pickett, a 6-foot-5 junior guard, would happily own it.

It’s even more fitting because the laser-focused Pickett is going places. This fall, he received four more Division I scholarship offers, bringing his total to eight.


After hearing from Northern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Western Illinois and George Washington earlier in the year, Pickett visited San Diego and new coach Steve Lavin in early September and received an offer.

Illinois-Chicago, Southern Illinois and Northwestern followed. However ...

“I still think I have more to prove,” said Pickett, who averaged 14.1 points and made a school-record 73 3-pointers last season for the Blackhawks (17-14). “I know recruiting is a process, so I’m letting it play out to see what happens.”

There will surely be more. Pickett played this past spring and summer with the Mac Irvin Fire and has spoken with Stanford along with several Ivy League schools.

“It was definitely a step up in competition,” Pickett said of his AAU work. “Everywhere we went, there were tons of coaches in the gym. Definitely a great experience and a great platform to showcase my talent and help with my development and recruitment.”

West Aurora coach Brian Johnson has noticed the difference.

“Josh has been outstanding,” Johnson said. “He’s gotten a lot better, even since the end of the summer. He finishes much stronger than he has and his work ethic is still next to none.”

Ah yes, the work ethic. Pickett credited his parents, Mark and Angela, for instilling that in him.


“That was definitely a big piece of it at the beginning,” said Pickett, who carries a 5.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale. “They always knew I could do it and pushed me to do it.

“That mindset became ingrained in me, and it started being the case where I wanted to see myself getting A’s. It came from me as I grew older.”

It led to him receiving an invitation earlier this month for induction in February into National Honor Society.

Intrigued a few months ago by software engineering and robotics, Pickett said he’s now thinking finance and real estate.

“I’m good with numbers and math is my strong suit,” he said, adding with a smile. “I like dealing with money.”

Johnson, meanwhile, is also gazing up at his team leader’s ceiling.


“I think he’s a lot better than what people realize,” Johnson said. “I don’t think he’s correctly slotted when these people come out and rank these kids.”

Fortunately, Pickett has two full seasons left to prove it.

Another offseason focus was his work in the weight room, where he’s added 10-15 pounds of muscle, putting him between 205 and 210 pounds.

“Taking it to the cup now, it’s hard to stop me,” Pickett said. “That was one of the big things for me. It could help me get better inside and guarding bigger guys, and I always want to guard the best guys.”

Joining him in leading a talented young team for West Aurora will be 6-5 sophomore Terrence Smith, who burst on the scene midway through last season and could well be a Division recruit in either football or basketball.

“Honestly, for him, the sky’s the limit,” Pickett said of Smith. “He’s got that athleticism, can grind, and he plays hard already.”


Three seniors — Datavion McClain, Jeffery Tyson and Derrick McKinney — return with varying degrees of experience. They’re joined by junior guards C.J. Savage, a transfer from East Aurora, and Jordan Brooks, a transfer from Oswego.

Billy Samp, a 6-6 junior, is part of a committee handling the post.

“Since we don’t have like that dominant, big inside force,” Pickett said, “I think we’re going to be playing super fast and very scrappy, all over you on defense.”