Indiana State viral star Robbie Avila announces transfer to Saint Louis despite ‘a bunch’ of Power 5 interest

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - APRIL 04: Robbie Avila #21 of the Indiana State Sycamores looks on during the NIT Final college basketball game against the against the Seton Hall Pirates at Hinkle Fieldhouse on April 4, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Robbie Avila is moving to another mid-major. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Indiana State star Robbie Avila was one of the most intriguing names to hit the transfer portal after achieving internet fame last season with the Sycamores.

He announced his destination on Saturday via Field of 68: Saint Louis, where he’ll follow former Indiana State head coach Josh Schertz. The Billikens hired Schertz earlier this month after a 32-7 season in Terra Haute.

Avila described the transfer portal process as a repeat of his high school recruitment process, despite entering the portal with a no-contact designation, which is what athletes do when they already know where they want to go. He said he received interest from every Power 5 conference, with several ACC schools in particular:

“There was a bunch of ACC schools, all of the Power 5s reached out. I had contact with a lot of schools. It was crazy, I felt like I was in high school all over again doing the entire recruitment process. It all came at once, the first day you’re in they all try to contact you.”

Avila ultimately made the same decision he made in high school, to play for Schertz:

“He showed the interest right away that the bigger schools didn’t show out to me. A lot of schools thought I wasn’t good enough to play at this level. He didn’t. He really trusted me, he really saw the vision … I think we’ve built such a great relationship, I couldn’t see myself playing under anybody else right now.”

Bringing Avila with him is a big-time get for Schertz as he prepares to lead a mid-major that has reached the NCAA Tournament 10 times in its history. Avila became something of a cult hero among hardcore college basketball fans last season between his skills, with 17.4 points per game and a first-team All-MVC selection, and his distinctive aesthetic.

The nicknames were next level, with “Cream Abdul-Jabbar” and “Larry Curd” leading the pack (that latter one might no longer apply now that he’s left the Boston Celtics legend’s alma mater). He led the Sycamores to a Missouri Valley Conference title, but fell 84-80 to Drake in the conference title game. There was still hope Indiana State would make March Madness as an at-large, but the program was controversially passed over for the likes of Virginia and Boise State.

The Sycamores proceeded to accept an NIT bid and reach the title game, where they lost 79-77 to Seton Hall, another tourney snub.