I'd like to thank the audience and members of the press for joining us today. It seems like just a month ago that we were doing this -- time really does fly. In introducing the members of the Season 56 recruiting class, I need to tell a story, because without a doubt this recruiting season had more twists and turns in it than any I can remember. As you know, we had two open scholarships. As a staff, we wanted to fill those with players who could play down on the blocks, one from a JUCO, one an incoming freshman. If we had any money set aside, we were going to look at what was on the market.
So the first guy I'd like to introduce is Paul Kwak
who will be a sophomore after playing last season at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas. Paul was the first of seven recruits we tried to contact initially who told us they thought they'd play D2 ball who later called us back saying they'd given it a bit more thought and liked Shenandoah. If you've ever seen El Dorado, Kansas, you'd know the whole place stinks like an oil refinery, so you can understand why he reconsidered. In Paul's case, the early bird got the scholarship offer. Paul has extremely high upside in his rebounding and we also think we can make a better perimeter shooter out of him so that maybe we can slide him out to a 3 in some instances. He also has amazing cardio and will finish his career with a 95+ stamina rating.
Now, like I said, Paul wasn't the first JUCO player we went after. We had another gentleman from Cumberland County College in New Jersey that we looked at, and he was pretty keen on coming as well, so knowing we had two players excited to come here early in the recruiting window, we went looking for people who could possibly upgrade our team from what we had coming back. One of the people he turned us on to was this kid from up the road by the name of Charles Murray
who is the second recruit from the class of S56. For lack of a better term, Charles is an athletic freak of nature for someone his size. He's got high potential in shot blocking, perimeter shooting and ball handling. He's not going to put up insane scoring numbers, but we expect that he'll drive a few teams insane with his defense. My expectation for Murray is 565ish at graduation.
And then we come to the crown jewel for this class. While we were in Jersey, our scouts kept raving about this kid up north by the name of Christopher Asay
that was getting overlooked by everyone. So after watching Murray play one night, we cruised up there and all I can say is WOW! I don't know what the guys from the NJAC or the CUNY are doing right now, but they are going to be kicking themselves in two years for not grabbing this guy out of their own back yard. After finding him, we literally set aside about a third of our recruiting budget to defend him, because we kept thinking that surely someone would be coming for him. He has high potential in seven categories, at least three of those are high-high -- it could be as many as six, but to be honest we stopped evaluating him to save bucks in case we had to fight for him. The non-high categories are all average potential. This kid will easily be 625 at graduation and could push into the mid-600s or higher. And if that wasn't enough, through sheer blind luck, it turns out his high school ran similar offensive and defensive packages to ours, so he comes in ahead of the curve there too.
So, with that, questions?
Why the decision to not renew John Cummins' scholarship?
As you know, small forward was a position we struggled with last season. John ranked third in our team in minutes played last year, but 10th in points. He was also last on the team in assists + steals vs. turnovers comparison and didn't seem to be responding to off-season workouts and such. We finally decided it was better for both him and our program if he sought the opportunity to play somewhere else this season.
Why'd you go JUCO rather than sign another freshman?
There were two reasons. First, if you look at just our post players, we have five scholarships clustered over a two-year period. Grabbing a JUCO guy gets one of those scholarships out of that zone, making it more likely that we'll always have an experienced post player to look to down low. We also had seven seniors on the roster when things started. WCAA regs say we can only sign six per season to a class, so we wanted to spread that class out. By grabbing a JUCO player this year, we give ourselves the option of signing one or more next season as well, gradually pulling that large class into a more gradual distribution of players through all four years of college. That also explains a reason for our decision to cut Cummins.
How much persuading did you have to do to get Asay to play Division 3 ball?
None. He was willing to play D3 straight out of the gate, no persuasion needed. The stars really aligned there.
Predictions for the season?
We're coming off a rough year where I didn't think we performed quite as well as we were capable of, particularly within conference play. Given that, and the experience we're returning, I think we'd be extremely disappointed if we didn't show improvement over last year.
Thank you Hornet Nation!