Adding to his already potent arsenal of returners, Humboldt State head men's basketball coach Steve Kinder is bringing in eight newcomers who will further enhance the Lumberjacks' chances of defending their California Collegiate Athletic Association title this year.
Humboldt State, 26-4 in 2010-11 and California Collegiate Athletic Association champions, return three starters from the squad that qualified for the NCAA Division II postseason for the 10th time in 11 years. They'll supplement the group led by all-CCAA selection Randy Hunter and Brandon Sperling with a talented recruiting class that includes five transfers and two freshmen.
Following are brief biographies of the Jacks' newcomers.
Austin Bryan, a 6-4 guard, joins the Jacks after sitting out the 2010-11 season recovering from a knee injury that occurred late in his 2009-10 debut as a freshman at Dominican University. During his first collegiate season, Bryan averaged 21.5 points per game to lead the PacWest Conference, and was recognized as the league's Freshman of the Year and selected to the all-league first team.
In PacWest conference play, Bryan also led all players in free throw percentage, making 70-of-78 attempts for a .897 mark. He was also first in 3-pointers made, fourth in steals and fourth in 3-point shooting percentage (.441). Bryan is from Wenatchee, Wash., where he starred for Wenatchee High School, earning Columbia Basin League MVP honors his senior year.
"Austin is a scoring threat from the 3-point line and also has the ability to score from mid-range," Kinder said. "He'll give us another perimeter threat to help fill the void left by (graduated senior) Ernie Spada."
Tavin Hurley adds to the Jacks' size and strength in the post, bringing a 6-9, 235-pound frame to the court. Hurley hails from Joseph, Ore., and played the past two season for Blue Mountain Community College. During the 2010-11 season Hurley averaged 15 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots per game.
"Tavin is a high profile recruit that we have landed with high expectations," Kinder said. "We believe he will bring instant numbers in both the scoring and rebound columns."
A teammate of Hurley's at Blue Mountain, Robbie Church offers contrasting skills that include good range and a deft shooting touch. A 6-6 shooting guard from Springfield, Ore., Church is also solid rebounder who Kinder can call upon to guard opponents' power forwards.
"Robbie is a lights out shooter with a high and quick release," Kinder said. " With his shooting ability and toughness Robbie is a player we will be counting on to help us contend for the CCAA title."
Another 6-9 presence down low is JC transfer Greg Leslie, who played his freshman season at Grayson Community College in Texas and comes to Humboldt State as a sophomore. Along with strong defensive skills, Leslie adds the ability to step outside and shoot the 3-pointer.
Leslie prepped at Chaparral High School in Temecula, where he averaged 16.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game for the Rams during his senior season.
"Greg will present problems for our opponents," Kinder said. "He has the skills to play out on the perimeter and a good sense of team play."
Darren Turpin transfers to Humboldt State from Navarro College in Texas, where former HSU player Eric Colbert serves as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. A 6-4 junior, Turpin is an undersized post who can also step outside to score. He averaged seven points and five rebounds for the Runnin' Bulldogs last year.
Turpin played high school basketball for perennial basketball power Dominguez High School in Compton.
"Darren has experienced success in a very good junior college program," Kinder said. "He is a physical player who brings toughness and effort to every possession."
Ethan Dillard, a 6-3 incoming freshman from Bishop Manogue High School in Reno, Nev., will reinforce the Lumberjacks' 3-point game. Dillard averaged 20 points and five rebounds per game this past season for the 4A state runner-up Miners, and was selected to the Reno Gazette Journal's All-North team.
Dillard made 102 3-pointers as a senior forward, including 10 in a single game in December.
"Ethan has a shooter's mentality and is a competitor who won't back down," Kinder said. "He's a great student in the classroom, and I expect him to have an immediate impact on our program."
Colin Lee is a freshman who at 6-5 brings length and size to the guard position. He averaged 17.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game for Nevada Union High School last year, and was named MVP of the Northern California All-Star Senior Showcase.
"Colin has 3-point range and the ability to play on the perimeter," Kinder said. "He's a skilled player who will fit into our motion offense concepts immediately and contribute to this basketball program his first year."
Meniru Ofodu is a 6-4 transfer from San Jose State, where he redshirted last year for the Spartans. The small forward played prep ball for Heritage High School, earning All-Bay Valley Area League recognition in 2009-10. Ofodu helped Heritage win the BVAL title that season and advance to the second round of the NCS playoffs.
"Meniru is a special player who can run, jump, and make spectacular plays," Kinder said. "He's a real crowd-pleaser who can get the ball to the basket."
Named CCAA and West Region Coach of the year following a spectacular first season guiding the Lumberjacks, Kinder and assistant coach Hardy Asprilla are counting on this recruit class to refuel the Jacks. Along with Spada, the Jacks will be without departed senior Brian Morris, the CCAA and West Region Player of the Year, and also be missing starter Elliot Babcock-Krenk, who decided to forgo his final year of eligibility.
Returning personnel include all-CCAA first team honoree Randy Hunter, who averaged 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in 2010-11. Also named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches' all-region team, Hunter will be a senior.
Another talented senior, guard Brandon Sperling, earned all-CCAA second team honors, scoring 12.7 points per game last year and dishing a team-high 84 assists. Kyle Baxter, a 6-9 junior with diverse talents as a shooter, rebounder and ball-handler, started all 30 games for HSU a year ago.
DJ Broome, a point guard who led the Jacks in steals last year, also returns, and redshirt sophomore Matt Lipski, a 6-9, 275-pound post player, will see his first action for HSU in the late fall.
Humboldt State opens with a home exhibition game against Simpson University on Oct. 28, then travels for an exhibition game against NCAA DIvision I University of Arizona on Nov. 1.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
A lengthy Humboldt State update
Coach Steve Kinder has added eight newcomers to his Humboldt State basketball program -- here's the release: