Mocs Basketball Team Signs Five in Early Signing Period
(gomocs.com) CHATTANOOGA—Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball coach Matt McCall announces the addition of five to national letters of intent in this week’s early signing period for the 2017-18 roster. The class includes three high school freshmen and two junior college transfers.
McCall and his staff add a player at each position on the court with point guard Jalen Crutcher, wings Terry Nolan, Jr., and Eric Turner and posts Joan (pronounced jo-juan) Duran and Demarcus Mitchell.
“This is no slight against any previous classes [at UTC],” McCall began. “But to be able to add this many guys of this caliber in the early period has to be one of the better classes this program has seen. Just from top-to-bottom in a sheer numbers standpoint.
“We’re bringing in one at every position and there’s a good balance too between talented high school and experienced junior college players. Equally important is they’re all high-character kids. We’re excited about the group.”
Crutcher comes from a familiar location for Mocs guards. The Memphis native preps at Ridgeway for Wes Henning, just as senior Greg Pryor and Johnathan Burroughs-Cook did. He averaged 18 points, four assists and two steals per game a year ago and is a 3-star recruit (rivals.com).
“First kid I offered when I got here,” McCall stated. “We’ve been recruiting him for two years. Obviously, his relationship with (Johnathan) Burroughs (-Cook) and (Greg) Pryor coming from the same high school helped. High-level talent at the point guard spot. He can really, really shoot which is something that really complements the point guard we have coming back in Rodney (Chatman). They both bring different things to the table.”
Nolan is a 2-star (verbalcommits.com) combo guard from Baltimore. He’s the No. 22 ranked player in the talent-rich state of Maryland. The combo guard was second team All-Baltimore Catholic League and is a preseason first team selection this campaign in what is considered one of the top high school leagues in the nation. He plays for Hakeem Hibbert at Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
“Terry is a terrific wing player,” McCall continued. “He was being recruited by higher-level conferences and schools. Explosive athlete who can put the ball down [on the floor] with a great feel for the game. Losing (Tre’) McLean and (Casey) Jones both on the wing, you have to address that position and Terry, from a talent standpoint, will be ready to play as a freshman.”
Turner signed with FIU out of high school, but ended up at Chipola College in Florida. He posted 11.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest as a freshman for Bret Campbell. Coming out of high school, he ranked No. 52 nationally at small forward on ESPN.com. He was a 3-star prospect (ESPN) at the Villages Charter School who averaged 23.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game during his junior season.
“I’ve known Eric since he was in seventh grade,” McCall shared. “I remember him showing up in my office [at UF] when he was in eighth grade. A long, long relationship with Eric going back to camp at Florida. I’ve watched him grow up…I’ve watched him develop…another wing player that has a terrific feel, but with really good size. He’s similar to Tre’ McLean size-wise. He can play at different spots in the backcourt and in the front. There’s a lot of positive with Eric on top of his game.”
Duran is a stretch four who prepped at Hamilton Heights Academy in Chattanooga. He’s entering his second season at Eastern Florida State College. He currently averages 10 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for Jeremy Shulman’s No. 4 ranked junior college team in the country. Duran posted 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game playing for former Moc Zach Ferrell’s nationally-ranked Hamilton Heights program where he was a 2-star prospect (verbalcommits.com).
“Played his high school career here in Chattanooga,” McCall added. “Another frontcourt player with a high skill-set. Can really, really pass the basketball for a power forward. Can put it down with a high-basketball IQ. He played on the Dominican Republic’s U18 national team. He’s obviously familiar with the town and he’s played in college game on the junior college level.”
Mitchell is a 2-star post (verbalcommits.com) from the Memphis area as well. Coached by former UT Martin head man Jason James, he’s a big with a strong ability to run the floor for Germantown High School. He’s coming off a junior season that saw him average 10 points and eight rebounds per contest.
“Demarcus is a strong, physical center,” McCall concluded. “Great hands, great feet…he really, really runs and moves well. Plays for a high school coach who coached at our level who is doing a good job with Demarcus’ development. Just a physical frontcourt who can also move. I remember seeing him play this summer…the way he ran up-and-down the floor just the way we want in a big man.”
2016-17 Early Signing Class
Jalen Crutcher, PG, 6-3, Memphis, Tenn., Ridgeway H.S., Team Magic Elite AAU
Joan Duran, F, 6-8, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Eastern Florida State J.C., Hamilton Heights Acad.
Demarcus Mitchell, F, 6-7, Memphis, Tenn., Germantown H.S., Team Magic Elite AAU
Terry Nolan, Jr. G, 6-3, Essex, Md., Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Baltimore United AAU
Eric Turner, G/F, 6-5, Gainesville, Fla., Chipola J.C., The Villages Charter
“With what we’re losing, you worry about taking a dip,” McCall said when asked about the mix of this class with the returning squad for 2017-18. “It’s not going be easy by any means. You don’t replace a Casey Jones, Justin Tuoyo, Tre’ McLean, Greg Pryor and Johnathan Burroughs-Cook. What you have to evaluate is your talent. The intangible piece [in recruiting] you’re not going to know a lot about.
“We felt like, in losing those guys, the kids we’re bringing in will keep us at a high talent level along with the guys we’re excited about coming back.”