SoCalHoops Recruiting News
Big West Recruiting: Eastern
Division Report--(May 18, 2000)
The Big West Conference is one of our favorites, but it's pretty large (hence the name "Big" West), and just as the confernece itself breaks down into an Eastern Division and a Western Division, we've also broken our report down some to make it more manageable. This installment focuses on the teams in the Eastern Division of the Big West Conference and how they fared this year in recruiting.
|New Mexico St.||11||5||.688||22||10||.687|
The 1999-00 Big West mens basketball season was fairly successful by most standards, not as successful as many had hoped, but three teams made it to post season play. . . of course, only one, Utah State made it to the NCAA tournament, while Long Beach State and New Mexico State were invited to the NIT. Beyond getting to post-season tournament play though, these three teams all lost in the first round, with Utah State losing to the defending national champions, UConn 75-67, and Long Beach State and New Mexico State losing to Cal and Arizona State, respectively, in the NIT.]
Based on the order of standings in the Eastern Division of the conference, here's a look at who signed with each of the schools in the Big West Conference Eastern Division schools, who's returning and some commentary and notes on each team.
Total Signees: (3)
Fall signees: (2)
Toraino Johnson (6'-4" So. F) El Paso, Texas (Garden
John Neil (6'-7" So. F) Los Altos, California (Canada College)
Spring Signees (1)
Jeremy Vague (6'-9" So. PF) Canada College, Redwood City/Pepperdine
Utah State is losing four players from this year's roster and picking up three (only two of whom will play next season). Troy Rolle (6'-2" Sr. G) is the lone graduating senior but three other players decided to leave the team "in pursuit of more playing time" which is an exact quote from the Utah State official press release on the subject. Gone will be Brad Willden, Andre Mahorn, and Rashaun Thomas. Wilden is apparently transferring to Westminster College, a lower division school in Salt Lake City, but we don't know where the other two are going. But the Aggies will return 12 players from last year's roster, and with the signings of the three JUCO guys, they should be in pretty good shape. As far as the signees go, coach Stew Morrill picked up some pretty good recruits, especially Jeremy Vague who will have two years of eligibility with USU after completing his sophomore season at Canada College in Redwood City, Calif. this past year along with his Canada teammate John Neil. Vague averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds a game this past season for Canada College and was named to the all-Coast Conference Second Team. He's originally from San Diego, where he was a two-time MVP for San Marcos High School where he averaged 23 points and 17 rebounds per game as a senior. Neil was also an all-Coast Conference First Team selection this past season, but he won't join the team until the 2002-03 season because he'll be off serving his Mormon Mission. Torraino Johnson from Garden City CC will be a sophomore at USU and he's originally from El Paso, TX, but that's about all we know about him. Neil will be going on a two year Mormon mission starting next season, so he won't suit up for USU until 2002/2003.
On the "unofficial" front, USU hasn't officially announced the signing of Lemar Gayle from Cerritos, even though the Orange County Register did report it a few weeks ago, saying that he had "signed". We're not sure why USU hasn't made the official announcement, but they're apparently pretty tight-lipped about such comings and goings. Gayle was the State JUCO Co-Player of the Year in 1999 and he led the team to a state title; this past season, he averaged more than 20 points per game, set rebounding records at the school and played great defense, as well as holding the record as Cerritos' all-time leading scorer, and we agree with some observers who believe he could be Big West newcomer of the year, he's that good. USU has also reportedly received LOI's from Calvin Brown from East Palo Alto, and Thomas Vincent from Olathe, KS, but neither of those commitments have been officially acknowledged either.
Here's the rest of the team which should be returning
|Dion Bailey||6'-3" Jr. G||West Covina, Calif. (West Covina HS/Santa Rosa JC)|
|Curtis Bobb||6'-6" Jr. F||Aurora, Colo. (Hinkley HS/Southern Idaho JC)|
|Tony Brown||6'-3" So. G||Hyrum, Utah (Mountain Crest HS)|
|K.C. Comadena||6'-2" Fr. G||Logan, Utah (Logan HS)|
|Shawn Daniels||6'-6" Jr. F||Bakersfield, Calif. (Highland HS/Bakersfield JC)|
|Chad Evans||6'-7" Fr. F||Ogden, Utah (Weber HS)|
|Jason Hendrian||6'-7" Fr. F||Logan, Utah (Logan HS)|
|Dimitri Jorssen||6'-11" Jr. C||Theux, Belgium (Lassen JC)|
|Jason Napier||6'-7" Fr. F/C||Indianapolis, Ind. (Park Tudor HS)|
|Brennan Ray||6'-5" So. F||Chandler, Ariz. (Chandler HS/Mesa CC)|
|Bernard Rock||5'-10" Jr. G||Mayer, Ariz. (Orme HS/New Mexico Military)|
|Dan Stewart||6'-7" So. F||Salt Lake City, Utah (East HS/Utah State)|
New Mexico State:
Fall Signees (2)
James Moore (6'-8" Sr. F) Dolton, Illinois (Thornridge
Dennis Trammell (6'-3" Sr. G) Chicago, Illinois (Westinghouse Academy)
Spring Signees (2)
James Felder (6'-8" So. PF) New Mexico JC (Dallas
Skyline HS, TX)
Tedrell Jones (6'-6" So. F) Chicago, Ill (Malcolm X JC, Chicago Manley HS)
The new guys will be joining an Aggie team that finished 22-10 in 2000 and played in the NIT, losing in the first round to Arizona State. Lou Henson loses four players from the 1999-2000 roster: Brad Bestor (6-2 Sr. G), Aaron Brodt (6'-9" Sr. F/C) and Billy Keys (6'-2" Sr. G) from Chicago, Ill. (Manley HS/Northeastern Illinois), and Gerard Moore (who also played at S.E. Illinois) but Henson picks up four new players, including three more Chicago area players--one of whom was a high school teammate of Billy Keys at Manley. If you want to play for New Mexico State coach Lou Henson, it sure helps to be either from New Mexico or from Illinois. . . he just loves those Illinois guys, and this coming season will have 7 of 14 who hail from the Land of Lincoln.. The most recent signee this year was the only non-Chicago are guy, James Felder, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward who will bolster NMSU's interior game and who is familiar with the region, having attended New Mexico JC. Felder averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds per game at NMJC and was named to the first-team All-Western Junior College Athletic Conference. Last year he also earned All-NJCAA Region V honors and led the WJCAC in rebounding. The first spring signee was Chicago prep star Tedrell Jones, a 1997 graduate of Manley High School in Chicago, Ill., who played two years of junior college basketball at Marshalltown (Iowa) Community College from 1997-99, where he averaged 7.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game at MCC as a freshman in 1997-98. During his sophomore season, Jones was injured after playing just five games. In the five games, he averaged 15.0 points and 8.0 rebounds. Jones sat out the 1999-2000 season while attending Malcolm X College in Chicago. Jones will be graduating from MXC with an associate's degree at the end of this spring. The 6-6, 200-pound forward was named first-team All-Chicago and All-Illinois during his senior season, (1996-97). He averaged 19 points and nine rebounds per game during his senior year. He's probably the most explosive player that NMSU will have next year and he brings another dimension to this already talented team. We really don't know much about Moore and Trammell, and haven't seen them play, but we've heard good things about them both, and expect them to be impact players.
|Eric Channing||6'-4" So. F||Wheaton, Ill. (Wheaton Warrenville South HS)|
|Daveeno Hines||6'-6" Jr F||Chicago, Ill. (Whitney Young HS/Northeastern Ill.)|
|Brandon Mason||6'-4" Fr. F||Chicago, Ill. (Morgan Park H.S.)|
|Mikko Noopila||6'-7" Jr. F||Helsinki, Finland (Helsinki Sports)|
|Zack Norvell||6'-3" Jr. G||Chicago, Ill. (DuSable HS/Northeastern Illinois)|
|Simon Bredenberg||6'-10" Fr. F||Santa Fe, N.M. (Capital HS) (Redshirt)|
|Kelsey Crooks||6'-6" Fr. F||Las Cruces, N.M. (Oņate HS)|
|Dennis Desmond||5'-11" Fr. G||Hingham, Mass. (Tabor Academy)|
|Steph Green||6'-8" Jr. F||Kansas City, Mo. (Southwest HS/Northeastern Okla. A&M)|
|Ryan McDermott||6'-9" So. F||Alamogordo, N.M. (Alamogordo HS)|
University of Nevada (Reno):
Fall signees: (4)
Andre Hazel (5'-11" Sr. PG) Lakewood, California
Garry Hill-Thomas (6'-4" Sr. G_ Oakland, California (Bishop O'Dowd HS)
Craig Lewis (6'-6" Sr. F) Garland, Texas (North Garland HS)
Sean Paul (6'-9" Sr. F) Elko, Nevada (Elko HS)
Spring Signees: (2)
Dennis Williams (6'-9" So. F) San Francisco, California (Skyline College)
Corey Jackson (6'-7" So. F) Cassatt, South Carolina (Ranger JC)
We couldn't decide whether to put Nevada in our Big West or WAC recap, since last season was the Wolf Pack's last in the Big West, and they will move to the Western Athletic Conference next season. But we decided ultimately that they should be included in the Big West recap, at least for now. . . This is a pretty deep recruiting class, maybe one of the best in the Big West, with solid players at virtually every position, and just looking at the signees, they'd make a good team all by themselves, even without the returning players. Coach Trent Johnson loses only two players to graduation, Tommy Zapata (6'-3" Sr. SG) from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, and Calvin Criddle (6'-5" Sr. F) from Oakland, who played JC ball at Santa Monica CC. Among the new signees in the backcourt, Andre Hazel should fit in well and will likely get significant playing time on this team as one of the best pure playmakers (and most underrated) in SoCal this past year, largely overshadowed first by the more high profile guys at Artesia, and now by the troubles at that school. Andre was recruited by Johnson for years, first when Trent was at Stanford, and finally when he got the Nevada job. Garry Hill-Thomas is an athletic shooter, with good court sense who understands the game, and who will get significant playing time immediately. Up front, Nevada got two excellent signees when they secured Dennis Williams, who played for head coach Pete Pontacq at Skyline, averaged 16.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game in 1999-2000, and Sean Paul from Elko, Nevada, a big-bodied rebounder and inside scoring threat. Williams played his high school basketball at Balboa in San Francisco, Calif, while Paul averaged about 14 ppg and 9.2 rebounds for his Elko team this past season. At the wing/small forward, Johnson has signed Craig Lewis and jsut last week grabbed Corey Jackson, a JUCO transfer, both of whom will provide solid ability. Jackson especially, coming in as a junior will be one of only three other current sophomores on this squad, which will need that kind of leadership next season.
Nevada struggled for most of this past season, going only 9-20, but they won their last two regular season games, and got into the Big West Tournament as a No. 3 seed, and then amazingly upset UCSB and survived long enough to play Utah State in the semifinals, losing by only 5 points. Terrance Green, who average 13 ppg, became one of the more productive players in the conference and should be a huge impact guy next season. All five starters from this past year return, but we'd look for some of the recruits to possibly displace a few.
This is what the returning Wolfpack roster should look like (again, the class designations are from this year, so just move everyone up a class rank for next season). A very young team.
|Adrian McCullough||5'-10" Jr. PG||Oakland, CA/College of Southern Idaho|
|Donnell Meekins||6'-2" So. G||Inglewood, CA/Columbia CC|
|Terrance Green||6'-2" Fr.G||Portland, OR/Benson HS|
|Mike Brown||6'-2" So. G||Reno, NV/Hug HS|
|Joao Santos||6'-8" Jr.F||Lisbon, Portugal/Braancamp Freire HS|
|Donny Guerinoni||6'-0" Jr.G||Sebastopol, CA/West Valley JC|
|James Bayless||6'-6" Fr. F||Las Vegas, NV/El Dorado HS|
|Evan Glusman||6'-2" Fr.G||Las Vegas, NV/Durango HS|
|Marlon Miller||6'-9" So.C||Toronto, Canada/Redemption Christian Academy|
|Richard Stirgus||6'-6" Jr. F||River Ridge, LA/McCook CC|
|Matt Ochs||6'-8" Fr. F||Sparks, NV/Reed HS|
Total Signees: (3)
Fall Signees: (0)
Spring Signees (3)
Corey Beavers (6'-3" So. SG) Memphis, Tenn.
(Coffeyville CC, Kansas)
Eric Collier (6'-8" So. PF) Durant, Iowa (Marshalltown CC, Iowa)
Bethuel Fletcher (6'-1" So. PG) Miami, Fla. (Miami Senior HS; Independence CC, Kansas)
If last year seemed to be a disappointment for coach Dave Farrar, you ain't seen nothing yet. If the team underachieved all year, and the Vandals seemed to get worse as the season wore on, at least they had some players to fall back on. They lost 7 of the last 10 games, and they also lose some senior leadership with Gordon Scott, Devon Ford and Clifford Gray leaving, who averaged about 40 ppg between them, and if that isn't bad enough, they also lose four other players. In mid-April, three players announced they would transfer: Lance Buoncristiani, a very promising point guard who got ill and had an emergency appendectomy at the end of the season, Wiliam Gates, Lennox McCoy. But to make matters worse, last week, Idaho center Kaniel Dickens, sometimes the best player on the basketball court, sometimes invisible, declared for the NBA draft, and also signed with agent Ben Pensack, thereby insuring that his college career was over. Daniels would have been a senior, and was one of the bright spots. All UI coach Dave Farrar could offer when he heard about the signing was "I hope he makes a great living, continues to become a better person and has a great life." Hopefully, Farrar had a stiff drink in his hand at the time. . . and some people think Steve Lavin's got it bad. . .
Farrar and the rest of the Vandal fans hope that the three recruits help to fill the void. Beavers was recognized this past season as a second-team all-conference choice by the Kansas Junior College Athletic Association, and he averaged 16.5 points off a 45 percent effort from the field, which includes 40 percent from 3-point range, and 80 percent from the free throw line. Beavers also had 4.5 rebounds per game, 2.5 assists per game, and 1.8 steals per game. "Corry is a multi-dimensional player," UI coach David Farrar said in the official press release announcing the signing of the three recruits a few weeks ago. "Obviously, he can make baskets, especially from 3-point range, but he also has the ability to rebound the basketball and is capable of developing into a solid defensive player." Collier should help up front; he averaged 10.1 points and 8 rebounds per game at Marshalltown. He was a second-team all-conference selection by the Iowa Community College Athletic Association. "Eric brings a toughness to this team that every coach yearns to have in all of his players," Farrar said. "He brings a lunch-pail attitude that hopefully will infect the rest of the team."
Idaho struggled at the point with two freshmen, Justin Logan and Lance Buoncristiani both having difficulty in the Idaho offense, and Farrar's signing of Bethuel Fletcher may provide some stability at that position next season. While Lance was one of our favorite players at the high school level, just an indefatigable guy who would often play on two or more teams at tournaments in the same day, in fairness, to him, his poor season was due to the fact that Lance was ill for a lot of the season and eventually had an emergency appendectomy late in the season. Hopefully, when he finds a school where he'll be happy. But even before Buoncristiani announced he would transfer on April 8 (along with William Gates and Lennox McCoy) Farrar wasn't leaving anything to chance, and he went to the JUCO well to find another point guard and came back with Fletcher, a 6-1, 185-pound point guard, who averaged 8.2 points while shooting 42 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3-point range, and 78 percent from the free throw line this past season at Independence. He also averaged 5.6 assists per game, 4.2 rebounds and 3.1 steals. "Bethuel has been a winner his entire competitive career," Farrar said in the official press release announcing Fletcher's signing. "He's won at every level he's played. His leadership, competitive charisma, and quarterback-like mentality are the perfect combination of traits that we need at the point guard position."
Without Kaniel Dickens in the post, Gerschefske and Chris Monroe will be the only big men, and this is a team in need of a huge infusion. Here's what the roster of returning players looks like now:
|Matt Gershefske||6'-6" So. F||Rogersville, MO|
|Jeremy Landram||6'-0" Jr. G||Chewelah, WA|
|Anthony Lewis||6'-2" Fr. G||Seattle, WA|
|Justin Logan||6'-0 Fr. G||Oakland, CA|
|Adam Miller||5'-10" Jr. G||Moscow, ID|
|Chris Monroe||6'-8" Fr. C||El Cajon, CA|
|Nathaniel J. Watson||6'-4" So. G||Edmonton, Alberta|
Total Signees (2)
Fall Signees: (1)
Kenny Gainous 6'-8" Sr. F Kent, Washington (Kent-Meridian HS)
Spring Signees: (1)
Langston Grady 6'-5" Sr. SG/SF San Antonio, Texas (John Jay HS)
Boise had a really schizophrenic season, as the team went 5-5 in non-conference play and then proceeded to lose six of their first seven Big West games, but then turned it around and won five of their next six games. And just when it looked like they were going to make the conference tournament, it all fell apart again as they lost their last three games. The Broncos' had great defense (second in the conference) but their offense wasn't anything to be proud of, ranking last in the conference overall. Looking at the roster and who will return, it's a little bit of the old "good news-bad news": The good news is that everyone except Justin Lyons (6'-7" Sr. F) from Tucson, AZ --who averaged 12.6 ppg-- is returning. Of course, that's also the bad news, and if Rod Jensen is to avoid taking any more heat than he took this past season, he'll have to get the offense rolling. And both Kenny Gainous and Langston Grady could help with that tremendously. Grady is a tremdous slasher with a decent shot from midrange who can jump like Vince Carter. Last summer he played for Pump N Run and he had probably the most spectacular dunks we saw all summer. Really this guy can just jump out of the gym, put his hand above the box on the backboard, and is strong and athletic. We've already posted the usual stuff in the press release about Grady's signing, but some of it is worth repeating: He helped lead his high school to a 31-5 record and a berth into the quarter-finals of the 5A Texas state tournament this past season. As a senior, he averaged 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Grady earned all-tournament honors at three different in-season tournaments, while also earning first team all-city and first team All-Northside Independent School District honors. He was also honored as John Jay's Defensive M.V.P. as a senior. Kenny Gainous, who signed in the fall, averaged 13.2 points per game and 10.1 rebounds, and earned first team All-South Puget Sound League honors. Gainous also blocked 84 shots (3.5 per game) during the 1999-2000 season, and he should provide some help down low if he can bulk his 200 lb frame up a bit. The outlook for next season should be pretty good if this team can keep from imploding again. They have excellent scoring ability with Abe Jackson, Kejuan Woods, an excellent playmaker at the point with C.J. Williams, and Quincy Wilder, who transferred from USC, but who sat out last season, should provide some instant offense. Here's what the returning roster should looks like:
|Delvin Armstrong||6'-4' Jr F/G||Vallejo, CA|
|Scott Fraser-Dauphinee||6'-7" Fr F/G||Vancouver, BC Canada|
|Michael Gely||7'-0" So C||Toulouse, France|
|Tim Hays||6'-4" Fr G||LaGrande, OR|
|Clint Hordemann||6'-3" Jr G||Eagle, ID|
|Abe Jackson||6'-7" So F||Boise, ID|
|Richard Morgan||6'-8" So F||Port Coquitlam, BC Canada|
|Booker Nabors||6'-3" Fr G||Boise, ID|
|Joe Skiffer||6'-2" Fr G||San Francisco, CA|
|Trever Tillman||6'-11" Jr C||Mountlake Terrace,WA|
|Quincy Wilder||6'-3" Jr G||Tacoma, WA|
|CJ Williams||6'-0" So G||Inglewood, CA|
|Kejaun Woods||6'-6" Jr F||Inglewood, CA|
Total Signees: (3)
Fall Signees: (3)
Leonard Hopkins F 6-4 215 Dallas, Texas (Dallas Lincoln HS)
Jerome Rogers G 5-10 150 Dallas, Texas (Dallas Madison HS)
Will Smith F 6-7 210 Dallas, Texas (Dallas Lincoln HS)
Spring Signees (0)
Like Boise State, this is more "good news" and "bad news" since the Mean Green loses most of its frontline with the departures of seniors Sam Funches and Brandon Gilbert, who both provided height, but not much scoring, averaging just 12.8 ppg. What this means is that Vic Trilli's three year losing effort is probably likely to continue notwithstanding the signing last fall of three more than decent players, because just about everyone from a team that went 7-20 is returning. And look at it this way: Those seven wins are the most in the last three years for North Texas, so things are looking up. Er, sorta, kinda. The Mean Green started conference play as a real threat to make the Big West tournament, and they won five of their first eight games, but then their lack of defense proved their undoing, and they lost the last 8 games in conference play. But they have Chris Davis, the conference's leading scorer as a freshman who averaged 21.7 ppg, and with their fast-break style of offense, the three recruits should fit right in.
Vic Trilli dipped into the talent pool of the Dallas-Fort Worth area to sign three Dallas-area recruits last fall. Leonard Hopkins, missed his junior season recovering from a broken leg, but as a freshman played on the Lincoln varsity that reached the state finals and as a sophomore, Hopkins led Lincoln to a 22-3 overall record as the No. 3-ranked player in the state of Texas. Hopkins' teammate at Lincoln, Will Smith, will help with some of the missing height. He was a first team all-District 13-4A as a junior and averaged 14 ppg, and was highly regarded by Texas Bluechip. . . we've never seen either of these guys (or if we have, don't remember them), so we can't add much, and we also have no idea how their senior season turned out, but they are rumored to both be quite athletic. Jerome Rogers, the third signee, attended Dallas Madison High School and has helped his team win the state Class 4A title in 1997 and earned first-team all-District 13-4A honors both as sophomore and junior. Texas Bluechip Report ranked him among the state's top 10 in ball-handling and scoring ability last summer.
When Trilli signed these three guys, he literally was gushing praise for them. Here are some quotes of his from the official press release announcing the signings: "Will Smith is a tremendous athlete. Leonard Hopkins is a tremendous athlete. These two kids are probably two of the best athletes that will be in our program. These kids are maybe a little better than the kids we have here already. Thats no slight on any of the kids we have here already. Ive got to have somebody around here that I can look eye-to-eye with and thats Jerome Rodgers. He played on the state championship team at Madison as a ninth grader. He was an instrumental part of that team as a ninth grader. Hes got tremendous range with his shooting. He has great speed and quickness. Hes a jet. He is a complete point guard. Both Lincoln and Madison are highly rated programs, preseason, in the state of Texas. There is only one way to describe this recruiting class, athletic. Leonard Hopkins, when he was a tenth grader, was one of the leading scorers in the state. He got injured. Weve had discussions about him coming here next year, sitting out and red-shirting him. Im hoping our program is far enough along were we can do that. Its a great position to be in.. . . These kids all committed (orally) to us early. Weve had many confrontations with other schools. Like happens in this business, schools refuse buy into the commitment part. The parents strength in this recruiting process has been unbelievable. They bought into our system and the commitment that this University has made to athletics. They believe in whats going on up here. They have fought off some big universities, all the way up until last night at 11:30. By 7:15 this morning, everything they said to us four or five weeks ago when they committed to us is exactly what happened. Its a huge day for us. Weve had some pretty good classes, but this class is as good or maybe better."
Er, um, ok. Now if they can only all learn how to defend. . . here's what the returning roster should look like (just bump everyone up a year in class ranking for next season). . .
|Wes Allen||6'-3" So. G||Amarillo, TX (Amarillo HS)|
|Kyle Crawford||5'-11" Jr. G||Baytown, TX (Lee HS)|
|Chris Davis||6'-6" Fr. G||Dallas, TX (Kimball HS)|
|Deginald Erskin||6'-6" So. F||Gonzales, TX (Gonzales HS)|
|Bryan Lucas||6'-7" Jr. F||Manteca, CA Azusa Pacific|
|Tyler Helwig||6'-3" Fr. G||Denton, TX (Denton HS)|
|Kenneth Mangrum||6'-4" So. F||Waco, TX (University HS)|
|Unjel Masters||6'-9" Fr. F||Dallas, TX (South Oak Cliff)|
|Jason Miller||6'-9" Fr. F||Livingston, TX (Livingston HS)|
|J.B. Mulvany||6'-7" Fr. F||Houston, TX (Clear Lake HS)|
|Dexter Tennell||6'-7" So. G||Irving, TX (Nimitz HS)|
|Calvin Williams||6'-0" Jr. G||Dallas, TX (Kimball HS)|
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