In true John Gallagher recruiting fashion, the three new players who will be added to the Hartford Hawks' roster for the 2016-17 season need a passport to make their way to West Hartford.
The first recruit is Andrew Ramirez, who technically lives closest to campus, coming in at about 5,621 km away in Madrid, Spain. Ramirez will have three years of eligibility left after suffering an injury at the beginning of last year. Though he only played in 12 games, he averaged 9.7 points, 3.1 assists and 2.8 rebounds last season for Western Nebraska Community College. He also shot 44 percent from three.
Moving into a Division I conference is something that Ramirez is excited about, according to WNCC athletics.
He is also following his former club coach Ivo Simovic, who is now an assistant with the Hawks.
While the numbers show he can score, according to WNCC coach Russ Beck, it's his defense that makes him stand out.
"He is a tremendous on ball defender," Beck said. "He definitely is top three of players I have coached on on-ball defense. He helped us with defensive stops with just pressure. He is a heady guy who passes to the guys and knows how to hit their hands. And, for being a flat-footed three-point shooter, he sure can shoot a high-percentage from the three-point line."
The second recruit is Nikola Colovic, coming from Belgrade, Serbia -- about 7,102 km from his soon-to-be home. Colovic is the only freshman recruit on this list. The 6-10 power forward will have some comfort knowing that fellow Serbian player, George Blagojevich, will be able to help his transition.
Colovic played the last two years at Beovuk 72, winning the MVP honors for the Serbia Under-19 league and averaging 25.5 points, 16.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his most recent season. His performance had him slated to play for the Serbia National Team at the World Championships in 2015 before being sidelined by an injury. Gallagher is excited to add him to the roster for the upcoming season, according to the Hartford Courant.
"I think eventually he's a first-team all-league guy," Gallagher said of Colovic. "And you put that with Pancake Thomas, Jalen Ross and then Carroll, who tore his ACL, and you mix in some of the other guys we have it makes for something special."
The final recruit is Hassan Attia, who was signed to the team about halfway through last season. He is coming the farthest to West Hartford, traveling about 8,686 km from his hometown in Alexandria, Egypt. Attia, coming in at 6-10 and 270-pounds, brings more than just size.
"Hassan is a space-eater in the truest sense of the word," Gallagher said, via Hartfordhawks.com. "With his ability to block shots and grab rebounds, he will be able to match up with anyone in our league and most of the bigs we face in non-conference action."
Hartford has built a reputation as a guard-heavy team, but adding two players at 6-10 will add needed height and diversify its attack.
The Hawks return their top three scorers with senior Cleveland "Pancake" Thomas, senior Jalen Ross and the sophomore Blagojevic. Thomas recorded one of the best individual seasons the Hawks have had, finishing with 566 points and a spot on the National Association of Basketball Coaches' all-District 1 Second Team.
With this blend of the old and the new, perhaps the Hawks are ready to compete in the America East.