Release from MSU-West Plains Grizzlies athletic page: West Plains, Mo. – Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball player Eric Lovett has signed a national letter of intent to join the Florida International University FIU Panthers in fall 2019. The 6-foot, 5-inch sophomore guard from Jonesboro, Georgia, signed his paperwork today during a press conference at Kellett Hall. Several teammates and Grizzly Booster Club members attended. FIU is an NCAA Division I school in Miami and competes in Conference USA. "Eric has worked extremely hard to put himself in this position," Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Chris Popp said. "Like Ricky (Torres) before him, he came to West Plains unheralded, without Division I recruitment. "Although he could score from the beginning, he bought into coaching, becoming a better basketball player, doing what it takes to win," the coach added. "He managed to put together an All-American career and earned numerous Division I options. It has been fun watching him grow." Lovett averaged 18 points, 5.3 rebounds and two assists per game this past season. He shot 48.9% from the field, 40.7% behind the arc and 79.2% from the charity stripe. His effectiveness on the court, especially against Region 16 opponents, earned him first team All-Region 16 and NJCAA third team All-American honors this year. "Eric was dynamic this season. Deep threes and explosive dunks were crowd pleasers. But it was his daily effort and consistency that were impressive. He has taken a business-like approach to what he needed to do and it has paid off," Popp said. Side note: Jeremy Ballard is entering his second season at the helm of the Panthers program. FIU is coming off a 20-14 season in 2018-19, and finished in a tie for 6th in the 13 team conference (10-8). Ballard went to FIU after 14 seasons as assistant coach at Pitt, Illinois State, VCU, Tulsa and alma matter Colgate. Prior to taking over at FIU, Ballard was Associate Head Coach at Virginia Commonwealth.