Coming off a ten win season, Coach Oliver Purnell put together a more than respectable recruiting class. He was able to sign four players that were ranked in the top 100. After losses to graduation and players leaving, Purnell will look to his true freshman to implement his style of play. Here is a breakdown of what to expect from the newcomers.
James Mays was ranked as the 89th best player in the country last season. He averaged a double-double his senior season with 20 points and 11 rebounds. As the season goes on, he could begin to push Akin Akingbala for a starting position. The Tigers are very thin on the front line this season and Mays will be a valuable contributor to this team. Ford and Akingbala both have a history of foul trouble, so Mays may be forced into a bigger role several games this season.
Cheyenne Moore was another top 100 player. If the Tigers decide to go with a smaller line up and put Olu Babalola at power forward, Moore could get the start at small forward. Moore is known as a strong finisher around the rim. His perimeter game will need to develop to be successful this season.
Sam Perry was a standout at Woodmont High School last year. He has sensational leaping ability, and has very quick hands. His length and versatility will earn him valuable minutes on the floor this year. The Tigers are going to be much more aggressive this season defensively from end to end. Perry's offensive game will need some time to develop, but he is ready to contribute to this team defensively.
Troy Mathis may be the most valuable of all the incoming freshman this year. The turnover problems were well noted last season. Vernon Hamilton picked up his play late in the year, but still needs to show more consistency. Mathis will take a lot of ball-handling responsibilities away from Shawan Robinson this year allowing him Robinson to settle in at shooting guard. Mathis is very quick on the perimeter and was known for his scoring in high school. He will have to adjust to distributing the ball more this year. The ball-handling skills for Mathis may be the best on the team, but he has to be careful to not try and force the action.
Cliff Hammonds is an electric combo guard. His role will be to provide a spark off the bench defensively. He needs to use his toughness and defensive abilities to create turnovers and easy baskets. Hammonds will most likely see his minutes at shooting guard backing up Robinson. Hammonds provides more size at the position, but will need to prove early on that he can be counted on as a consistent shooter.
Purnell got the best players that were available to him. This team is not going to make a run at the final four, but they will be more entertaining to watch and very much improved over last year's team. Purnell is doing his part so far, now the fans need to get behind this team starting at Midnight Madness and give other recruits something to think about.