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SoCalHoops Recruiting News

APU Picks Up 11 New Players: Gervin,
Michel, Hall, Freeman & Mann--(Oct. 11, 2000)

No, it's not some new law firm hired by Azusa Pacific University, but the names of a few of the quality recruits the Cougars have picked up for this season.

We reported several months ago that Azusa Pacific University, an NAIA school and member of the GSAC (Golden State Athletic Conference) was doing some pretty good recruiting, particularly when they picked up a commitment from Brett Michel (6'-7" SF/SG) from Simi Valley.  But when someone wrote us an e-mail asking if we were aware of the fact that APU had signed Caleb Gervin, who transferred from Louisville, we had to confess we weren't and likewise, we didn't know just how good APU's recruiting had been over the summer. How good has it been for the Cougars? Outstanding. 

The APU coaches, in particular head coach Bill Odell,   have put together a roster of players, including 11 new recruits and 3 redshirts for a total 14 man roster which would likely beat a lot of D-I programs out there.    The e-mail we received directed us to APU's official website, and there we found some details about the recruiting success they've had.  There are some very familiar names on this year's roster for those who have followed SoCalHoops for the last few years, including, among others, Caleb Gervin, Jed Hall from Montclair Prep (who graduated 2 years ago, but sat out last year with a broken leg), Tony Freeman who played at Santa Barbara and for 805, Brett Michel, and Joe Mann, who left San Diego State during the wave of mass transfers this past spring.

Here's the roster for this season:
2000-01 Azusa Pacific Men's Basketball Recruits

Caleb Gervin G 6-0 So. Palm Desert, CA (Louisville)
Steve McIlwain G 6-2 Jr. Fremont, CA (Canada CC)
Jedidiah Hall F 6-8 Fr. Chesapeake, VA (Montclair Prep)
James Hackett G 6-1 Jr. Azusa, CA (Delta CC)
Tony Freeman G/F 6-5 Fr. Santa Barbara, CA (SBHS)
Anthony Haggins F-G 6-2 Jr. East Palo Alto, CA (Skyline CC)
John Bourne F 6-5 Jr. Foster City, CA (Canada CC)
Brett Michel F 6-7 Fr. Simi, CA (Simi Valley HS)
Justin Leslie C/F 6-8 Sr. Nuevo, CA (Perris HS)
Adam Barthelmess C 6-8 Fr. Glendora, CA (Western Christian HS)
Joe Mann C 6-11 Jr. Poway, CA (San Diego State

And here's the story of their recruiting, from the Official APU website:

Cougars Put Together A Stellar Recruiting Class

AZUSA, CALIF. – Azusa Pacific's nationally-recognized men's basketball program has completed what is arguably the finest recruiting class in the 10-year tenure of Cougar head coach Bill Odell. 

The Cougars, who are the 8-time defending Golden State Athletic Conference champion and have made 5 consecutive trips to the NAIA Championship Tournament in Tulsa, Okla., have added 11 players, including 3 redshirts, to round out its 14-man 2000-01 roster. 

“We're certainly pleased with the balance of this recruiting class,” said Odell. “We have 3 freshmen and a sophomore which balances with the experience of our transfers. Every one of these players could have a significant impact on the team, even the young players, and they give us a quality depth that we haven't had the past couple of seasons.” 

Heading the list of newcomers are sharp-shooting speedster Caleb Gervin (6-0, sophomore, guard), a transfer from the University of Louisville, and junior college all-state guard Steve McIlwain (6-2, junior). 

Gervin was a 3-year All-CIF honoree at Cathedral City High in Palm Springs, Calif., where he tallied 2,647 career points, then fourth on the CIF Southern Section all-time scoring list behind Tracy Murray, Cameron Murray and Leon Wood. Gervin, who averaged 26.7 points during his prep career, appeared in 20 games for Louisville last year. 

McIlwain averaged 19 points last year as a sophomore at Canada College in Redwood City, Calif., while leading the Colts to a 25-7 record. As a prepster at Fremont (Calif.) Christian High, he was the 1998 CIF Division V MVP when he guided Warriors to 24-7 record. 

Also high on the list of newcomers is Joe Mann (6-11, 250, junior), a burly transfer from San Diego State where he spent the past 2 years as a key reserve for the Aztecs, appearing in over 50 games. 

Junior Anthony Haggins (6-2, 225, swingman) sat out the 2000 season after originally signing a letter of intent with Western Illinois. As a 1999 sophomore at Skyline Community College in San Bruno, Calif., Haggins earned all-state recognition and was named conference player of the year when he lead the Trojans to the Coast Conference championship. 

Freshman Brett Michel (6-7, 215, forward) was rated among the top prep players in California last year, averaging 19.6 points for Simi Valley (Calif.) High while shooting at a .402 (78-for-194) clip from the 3-point arc. An all-state third team pick last year, Michel tallied 2,051 career points, third best in Ventura County history.

Fellow freshman Tony Freeman (6-5, 180, swingman) is an outstanding athlete who was rated as Southern California's top off-guard during his 1999 senior season at Santa Barbara (Calif.) High School. He averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and 6.8 assists while earning All-CIF first team recognition. He spent the 2000 season at Northfield Mount Herman School, a prep school in Northfield, Mass. 

McIlwain's junior college teammate John Bourne (6-5, 210, forward) is a blue-collar front lineman who can score down low and on the perimeter. A strong and athletic presence, he could be the sleeper of this recruiting class. 

Hometown hero James Hackett (6-1, junior, guard) returns to Azusa Pacific, this time in uniform after he spent many of his childhood evenings watching the Cougars play in the early 1990s. Hackett, who did not play last year, was a key figure in leading San Joaquin Delta College to a 51-11 record during the 1998 and 1999 seasons. As a 1996 senior, he was the Montview League MVP at Azusa High. 

Center Justin Leslie (6-8, 220), the lone senior on the team, returns to the hardwood after missing all but 3 games last year with a wrist injury that eventually required surgery. Before redshirting the 2000 campaign, Leslie was averaging 17.3 points while shooting 63% from the floor. 

Redshirt freshmen Jedidiah Hall (6-8, 205, Montclair Prep) and Adam Barthelmess (6-8, 225, Western Christian HS) are set to begin their playing careers. For Hall, who was rated one of the California's top front line prep players in 1998, the wait has been long after redshirting the 1999 season and missing all of last year with a broken leg. 

In terms of players, this equals the largest recruiting class for Odell. His 1997 team featured 11 new players as well. That team won the GSAC championship and earned a berth into the NAIA Tourney. The following season, the bulk of those recruits led Azusa Pacific to its first of 2 consecutive trips to the NAIA Final Four.

With 5 players standing 6-foot-8 or taller, this will be the tallest Cougar team since Odell took over the program in 1992. 

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