Mid-Major Morning Mashups: Spring Signing Period Begins Edition

Thank goodness for the start of the regular signing period which gives us at least a 24-hour reprieve from talk of the San Diego point-shaving scandal. As it almost always the case, the opening afternoon of action featured players coming, going and breaking initial promises. Thus is life in the recruiting game.

The mid-major recruiting coup of the year made good on his word when Michael Chandler signed his letter of intent with Central Florida. The 6-10 center from Lawrence North High School (IN) - of Greg Oden fame - is the No. 5 rated player at his position in the country and ranked No. 42 overall, making him the highest rated non-power conference recruit outside of Memphis' Adonis Thomas (No. 7). He is a true center, with great strength and above average open floor speed. His offensive game is pretty elementary at this point but he has the athleticism to score right away at the college level, while providing a shot blocking and rebounding presence. It's early in the game, but under the tutelage of head coach Donnie Jones - an individual noted for his talent in developing big men - if the Knights can put some pieces around their blue chip recruit, a Conference-USA championship could be in the making in a few years.

While UCF was celebrating its good fortune, New Mexico State and Fresno State had to bite the bullet and watch players depart early. The Aggies will wait with baited breath for the next few weeks as leading scorer Troy Gillenwater declared for the NBA Draft yesterday morning. The junior power forward  has not signed an agent meaning he has until May 8th to make a final decision and given initial scouting reports, he should be returning for his senior season. The Bulldogs on the other hand will be without big man Greg Smith for the future as  the sophomore after declaring a couple of weeks ago made it official by signing with an agent. The center isn't projected to be selected by any mock drafts but has the kind of physical upside that he could ultimately work his way onto an NBA roster one day in the future give the proper development. 

There's plenty more recruiting news to recap, so read on for more of yesterdays happenings.

Iliana Limon of the Orlando Sentinel: "Elite Indianapolis center Michael Chandler previously committed to Louisville and Xavier before shifting his focus to the Knights. Chandler followed through on his commitment to UCF coach Donnie Jones and his staff Wednesday, signing a letter of intent to play for the Knights. The 6-foot-10, 220-pound athlete is rated the No. 4 center and No. 47th senior in the country by national recruiting website Rivals.com. Chandler is the highest-profile prospect to ever sign with UCF. "Coach Jones and the rest of the recruiting staff supported me and have been there for through my ups and downs," Chandler said. "That showed me that UCF was where I needed to be." Florida standouts Rod Days, Wayne Martin and Kasey Wilson also signed with the Knights during the early period. They were all rated three-star prospects by Rivals.com and fit in well with Jones' up tempo offense and pressure defense. Chandler makes the 2011 class the highest rated group of prospects the Knights have ever landed. "We're very excited about Michael," Jones said. "He's definitely a very talented big man that we needed to add to our program. He comes in with an exciting group of athletes who signed with us during the early period. We feel this class really fits our needs. Michael is special because he is able to score and able to rebound. He's very talented and will have a huge impact on our program."

Daniel Lyght of the Fresno Bee: "Fresno State basketball fans will have to shift their hopes from Greg Smith to new recruits today, the first day of the spring signing period. Smith, a sophomore center this past season, made his move to the NBA official with confirmation he has signed with an agent, athletic director Thomas Boeh said. Smith had announced his plans last month to apply for the NBA draft, but it is his hiring of an agent that ends his NCAA eligibility. If he had not signed, he would have had until May 8 to withdraw from the draft and retain his eligibility. The draft is June 23. Smith was the top rebounder (8.1 per game) and second-leading scorer (11.7 points) for the 14-17 Bulldogs in 2010-11."

Jason Lewis of the Las Cruces Sun-News: "There aren't many things Troy Gillenwater hasn't done in three years in a New Mexico State uniform. On Wednesday, Gillenwater stood beside NMSU men's basketball coach Marvin Menzies on the verge of a new step in his career. Gillenwater, the 21st leading scorer in NMSU history, announced his intention to declare for the June 23 NBA Draft. "It's exciting," Gillenwater said. "I'm really happy and I'm looking forward to every new experience. It's been an ongoing process with me and coach and my family have been talking about. We just all came to an agreement that it was a good idea to just test it out and get some feedback and see what can happen." Menzies said Gillenwater has not hired an agent. As a college junior, Gillenwater has until May 8 to withdraw his name and return to college. NBA teams can begin workouts with early entrants on April 29."

Doug Harris of the Dayton Daily News: "After her son made a verbal commitment to play basketball at the University of Dayton, Sandy Gibson made a trip to a clothing store to make sure she had the proper apparel. "I've bought my red, white and blue stuff for games. I had to get my support gear together," she said. Although the 6-foot-9 Percy Gibson of Detroit Southeastern High School has opted out of his letter-of-intent, his mother hasn't gotten rid of her UD garb just yet. She said Wednesday her son is still interested in the Flyers but needs time to re-examine his decision. Gibson was rocked by the unexpected departures of coach Brian Gregory and his assistants, and he wanted to start the recruiting process over with new coach Archie Miller. Gibson had offers from Minnesota, Temple and Southern Cal before committing to UD, according to Rivals.com, but he could be targeted by higher-profile schools after leading his team to the Class A (big school) state title game and being a "Dream Team" selection by both the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press as one of the five best players in Michigan. "We want to see what the possibilities are," Sandy Gibson said. "Percy is a more dominant force than he was six months ago."

Dave Mackall of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "You've heard of B.J. and T.J? Say hello to P.J. P.J. Torres, a 6-foot-4 combo guard who averaged 21.2 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game for New Rochelle (N.Y.) High School, has given Duquesne University a verbal commitment for the 2011-12 season, the third player to commit to the Dukes. That Torres is known as "P.J." gives Duquesne three players with similar monikers. Junior B.J. Monteiro and freshman T.J. McConnell, the Atlantic 10 Conference rookie of the year, were starters last season. "I'm very impressed with what they've accomplished since coach (Ron) Everhart came there," Torres said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "The coaching staff has worked hard to get the program to where it is now. I'm walking into a great position and I'm confident I can contribute right away." Oddities aside, Everhart is hoping the addition of Torres will give the Dukes another dependable option in the team's athletic style of play. Duquesne's frenetic pace is defined by full-court pressure defense for much of the time."

Troy Oppie of KBOI-TV: "Boise State men's basketball coach Leon Rice announced the final three signings of his eight-member 2011 recruiting class on Wednesday, including College of Southern Idaho standout Kenny Buckner. Buckner helped his Golden Eagles to the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship this season, averaging a double-double (10.8 ppg, 10.0 reb/game) during the tournament. Rice also announced junior college transfer Jarrell Craton and Australian Igor "Iggy" Hadziomerovic. Crayton arrives as a junior from Sheridan College in Wyoming. The six-foot seven-inch forward led the team in scoring with over 15 points-per-game, and was named to the all-region IX team. Hadziomerovic will join the Broncos after participating with the Australian national U-19 team at this summer's World Championships in Latvia. The guard averaged 23 points and five assists per game for his team which won the U-20 national tournament in Australia."

Via UALR Sports Information: "The UALR men's basketball team picked up its fourth addition for the 2011-12 season on Wednesday with the signing of Talihina (Okla.) High School product Taggart Lockhart. A 6-5 guard/forward, Lockhart received All-State honors from multiple organizations in 2011 after leading Talihina to the Oklahoma Class 2A State Championship by averaging 18.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. "I'm excited to have Taggart join our program. He is a guard who can play a number of different spots on the floor and brings good flexibility to our team. He fills a definite need for us with the departures of Alex Garcia-Mendoza, Solomon Bozeman and Matt Mouzy," said UALR head coach Steve Shields. "Taggart shoots the ball really well, but also has the ability to put it on the floor and go to the hole. He has a really good work ethic and I'm looking forward to getting him on campus." Lockhart capped off his high school career by receiving Class 2A All-State honors from the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Association (OBCA), the Oklahoman and the Tulsa World. He was named Class 2A Player of the Year by both the OBCA and Vype Magazine, and also received Small School Player of the Year honors from OUHoops.com. In addition, Lockhart was named to the Super Five Second Team by the Oklahoman, and will play in the OBCA All-State game on the campus of Oral Roberts University on July 28."

Via UMKC Athletics: "Head Coach Matt Brown announced today that Brad Reid has signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his education and playing career with the UMKC men's basketball program starting with the 2011-12 season. The 6-11, 275-lb. center joins the ‘Roos out of Roane State Community College where he helped the Raiders to a 16-10 record this past season. "We are excited to have Brad join our basketball family," coach Brown said. "He adds size and strength to our post, which will be huge for us going into the 2011-12 season. Most importantly we are getting a high character young man " During this past season as a Raider, the Tantanoola, South Australia, native, averaged 7.8 points per game on 57 percent shooting from the field, to go along with 6.5 rebounds per game and 1.7 blocks per game for head coach Randy Nesbit. Reid's best game at Roane State came on Nov. 20, when the big man notched a double-double after scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds against Southwest Tennessee Community College. In the regular season finale, Reid posted 17 points, nine rebounds, two blocks, a steal and an assist against Chattanooga State Community College, marking his 11th time in double figures during the 2010-11 season."

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