By Joshua Parrott, Sports Writer
Last week, men’s basketball coach Klint Pleasant announced the addition of six players for the 2003-04 season, including three transfers from Division I programs: Adrian Scott of Southeastern Louisiana, David Baxter of the University of Detroit and Atiba Alexander of Lipscomb University. Pleasant also signed junior college transfer Charles Chinn as well as two highly touted prep players: Josh Stephen of Nashville, Tenn., and Chris Farr of Abernathy.
The Wildcats also signed DeSoto High School forward Charles Stoker in the fall, who was an all-tournament selection after helping lead the Eagles to the Texas Class 5A state championship.
Pleasant said he is excited about the incoming players but that he has a good amount of faith in his current Wildcat players.
“On paper, we really feel good about the guys we signed, but we feel good about the guys we have coming back,” said Pleasant, who in his first year at the helm helped the Wildcats equal the team’s combined win total from the previous two seasons (13). “The big thing now is just going to be getting everyone in here and watching them play together. But we feel really, really good about what we have coming back.”
The Wildcats should return three of the top statistical players in the Lone Star Conference in junior Rodney Lee (LSC’s No. 5 scorer), junior Tucker Pierson (LSC’s No. 2 rebounder) and junior Cliff Green (LSC’s leader in assists).
Junior Ryan Coleman started all but one game last season, while sophomore Jeff Johnson averaged 8.4 points a game despite playing less than 19 minutes a night. Sophomore Calvin Nite was a reliable outside threat, and the freshman duo of A.J. Porterfield and Drexel Johnson provided glimpses of their vast potential.
Pleasant said ties made as a Division I assistant coach helped him secure the three Division I transfers.
“I grew up just north of Detroit, and I knew several guys involved with David’s situation,” Pleasant said. “I have a good friend who is an assistant coach at Southeast Louisiana [William Small] that put me onto Adrian. It’s the same thing with Atiba: I know all the guys at Lipscomb. We’re very fortunate to get involved with Atiba.”
Pleasant said most of the credit for this deep recruiting class goes to his assistant coaches, Clayton Bissett and Stephen Hamrick.
“Once we got involved with these guys, it was our job to get them down here on campus, recruit them, do a good job and get them signed,” Pleasant said.
The 6-foot-4 Scott, who will be a junior next season, averaged 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game as a senior at Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
“Adrian is strong and has a great physical presence about him,” Pleasant said. “He’s a guy that can score in a couple of different ways. He’s going to be someone who can step in and help us.”
The 6-foot-3 Baxter was a highly recruited player coming out of Detroit Commerce High School after averaging 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals as a senior. He was also the leading scorer in the Detroit Public School League not named Ricky Paulding, the current Missouri Tiger standout.
“David is someone who has a great reputation for being able to score,” Pleasant said of Baxter, whose father was an honorable mention all-Big Ten player at Michigan in 1978 and a 1979 draft pick of the Seattle Supersonics. “He has a knack for shooting the basketball and can put up numbers.”
Alexander, who redshirted last year at Lipscomb, was selected as one of the top 25 players from Tennessee as a high school senior.
“Atiba’s very athletic and is a 6-foot-5 guard, really a wing,” Pleasant said. “He can shoot it, but he can also drive. He can rebound, defend and he does everything well.”
Chinn, a 6-foot-7, 180-pound forward, was a high school teammate of Green and averaged 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks per game over two seasons at Cerro Coso Community College in California.
“Charles has a reputation for being an outstanding shot-blocker and defender,” Pleasant said. “You look at our roster, and that’s something we need.”
Pleasant said Stephen, a 6-foot-4 guard who picked the Wildcats over Division II powerhouses Harding (Ark.) and Lincoln (Mo.) Memorial, comes from a great high school program.
“Josh is a guy who will be very familiar with our system and is a very smart player,” Pleasant said. “He understands how to play and can play two or three different positions.”
Farr, who was an all-tournament selection as a senior after leading Abernathy to the Texas Class 2A state tournament semifinals, averaged 13 points and 11 rebounds for a 29-6 team.
“Chris is 6-foot-9 and has something you can’t teach: size,” Pleasant said. “He has good hands, good feet, and he can run. His best basketball is ahead of him.”
Bissett said not to forget Odessa Junior College transfer Matt Sutherland, who transferred to ACU in January.
“He’s mentally and physically tough,” Bissett said. “He’s a traditional point guard: he can pass, push the ball and shoot.”
Pleasant, who hopes to sign at least one more player before next season, said only time will show how productive this recruiting class will be.
“You’ve got to ask me a year from now,” Pleasant said. “If we mesh together and gel together as a team then this could end up being a really good recruiting class.”