MONTICELLO - The University of Arkansas at Monticello men's basketball team has finalized its recruiting class for the upcoming season. The 2012-13 roster features 10 new names, two from the high school ranks and eight junior college transfers.
The 2012-13 season marks the third year at the helm of the Boll Weevils for head coach Allen Sharpe, who increased his team's win total from 14 wins in 2010-11 to 21 wins this past season. Sharpe and the Boll Weevils received a total of 10 commitments in the off-season after losing three of the team's top four scorers from a year ago to exhausted eligibility.
Both high school signees come from within the state of Arkansas - Ryan Lensing, a 6-3, 180 pound guard from Greenwood, and Peter Barber, a 6-11, 270 pound center from Greenland.
Lensing averaged 17 points and six rebounds per game on his way to earning all-conference and all-state honors this past season, as well as an invitation to participate in the Arkansas high school all-star game.
"We feel that Ryan is a great fit for our program and the direction we want to go," said Sharpe. "He is a good student, a good athlete, but most importantly, a great kid... At 6-3, Ryan can really shoot the basketball and has the ability to finish at the rim. We expect Ryan to compete for playing time right away."
Barber averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocked shots per game this past season at Greenland High School.
"The sky is really the limit for Pete," said Sharpe. "He is nearly seven feet tall and has a great touch. That is a combination that is really hard to find. Pete nearly averaged a triple double during his senior season. Most kids will go through their entire career and never get a triple double in a game. Pete will be great for our basketball program, our university and our community."
From the junior college ranks come five guards and three forwards.
Josh Gibson transfers from Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden, Ala., where he averaged 12.3 points and 6.4 assists per game this past season. The 6-0, 170 pound guard was named to the All-Alabama Community College Conference First Team and also earned all-region honors. Gibson is originally from Springville, Ala.
"Josh was the best point guard in the Alabama Community College Conference this past season," said Sharpe. "He averaged nearly seven assists per game and only committed around one turnover per game. His coach at Gadsden State is a really good friend and said he will be the toughest kid on our team. We are excited about Josh coming to UAM."
Rashad Harris transfers from Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, Miss. where he averaged 19 points, seven assists and two steals per game last year. The 6-2, 185 pound guard is originally from Memphis, Tenn.
"We are very fortunate to sign Rashad," said Sharpe. "He was arguably one of the best guards in the Mississippi Junior College league this year. He is a combo guard, and has the ability to run a team as well as score the ball. His coach at Coahoma, Ira Peterson, is first class. He has done a great job of preparing Rashad for the next level."
Elgin Lee transfers from Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Mo., where he averaged 8.5 points and 3.1 assists per game last season. The 6-4, 190 pound guard is originally from Memphis, Tenn.
"Eli brings a ton of experience to our program," said Sharpe. "After playing two years at Three Rivers, he has played some really big games against top level talent. Three Rivers advanced to NJCAA national tournament this year where Eli scored 22 points in their final game against Southern Idaho. Eli gives us a guard with length that can make plays. He was our final signee and the perfect fit for what our team needed."
Michael Maya transfers from Cochise College in Arizona, where he averaged 18.6 points per game this past season. The 6-0, 175 pound guard led the nation with a total of 135 made three-pointers last season. He finished the year shooting 45 percent from three-point range. Before Cochise College, the Albuquerque, N.M. native lettered one year at Eastern New Mexico University after being named the New Mexico High School Player of the Year in 2010.
"Mike is a big time shooter," said Sharpe. "He made just over four three point field goals per game. He also made more total three point field goals than any player in the country at any level. We are very fortunate to have Mike join us at UAM. We feel that he is a great start in replacing the scoring of our three departing seniors."
Ramon Mejia transfers from Irvine Valley College in California, where he was a first team selection for the All-Orange Empire Conference squad. The 6-1, 180 pound guard averaged 13.1 points per game and connected on 37 percent on his three-point attempts. The Corona Del Mar, Calif. native is also an effective free-throw shooter, connecting on 86 percent of his foul shots last season.
"Our ability to make shots from the perimeter just got a lot better by signing Ramon," said Sharpe. "He was the leading scorer on a team that won 22 games. Irvine Valley and head coach Jerry Hernandez are well respected on the west coast. We feel very fortunate to sign Ramon and expect big things from him here at UAM."
Reginald Porter, a native of Little Rock, Ark., transfers from Southwest Tennessee Community College, where the 6-8, 200 pound forward averaged 7.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this past season.
"Reggie gives us an athletic big man that can run the floor and block shots," said Sharpe. "He played in a very successful junior college program at Southwest that is used to winning. Reggie plays the game around the rim and also has the ability to score with his back to the basket."
Amir Royal transfers from Yakima Valley College in Washington, where he led his team with an average 17.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last year. The 6-7, 215 pound forward was named a NWAACC All-Star this past year, in addition to earning a spot on the NWAACC All-Region First Team and the NWAACC All-Tournament Second Team. Prior to Yakima Valley College, the Las Vegas, Nev. native averaged over 25 points per game in his final year of prep ball at Rancho High School.
"We are excited about having Amir join us at UAM," said Sharpe. "He will give us added length and athleticism at the forward position. Amir is very versatile with the ability to play inside and out. He has the opportunity to step in and fill the spot of graduating senior Ricardo Hall."
Brandon Sims transfers from Southern Union Community College in Alabama, where he averaged 14.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game last season. The 6-4, 200 pound forward is originally from Monroe, La.
"If you ever have the chance to sign a kid that has played for Ron Radford at Southern Union, you better take him," said Sharpe. "We are getting a steal in Brandon. He was one of the best players in the Alabama Junior College league this year".
Among UAM's returning players is senior guard Kori Forge (Atlanta, Ga.), who ranked second on the team in scoring last year at an average of 17 points per game. Forge, a second team All-Great American Conference selection, and senior forward A.J. Calhoun (Mobile, Ala.) started 28 of 30 games last season for UAM. Calhoun averaged 5.3 points per game and led the team with an average of 6.4 rebounds per game.
Other returners include senior forward Deric Corbin (Dumas, Ark.), who played in 20 games last season, and two players that drew redshirts during the 2011-12 campaign - freshman guard Kam Ashabranner (Manila, Ark.) and junior forward Dayton Mickens (Greensboro, Ala.).
To view the entire 2012-13 roster, visit the following link: http://uamsports.com/roster.aspx?roster=39&path=mbball.
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Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations
University of Arkansas at Monticello