Tuesday, August 7, 2007

New Attitude: Bobby Collins making over WSSU's roster


Winston-Salem State’s basketball team doesn’t have a motto, but one to consider might be “out with the old, and in with the new.”

Coach Bobby Collins did more than hit the recruiting trail hard. He pounded it with vengeance, signing seven players to fill out his first full recruiting class.

Five of the seven will be with the team this winter. Two did not qualify academically - one will attend prep school, the other will redshirt.

WSSU went 5-24 last winter in Collins’ first season, and Collins said that his first priority in recruiting was to bring in more talent.

“I’m really excited about this class because the new kids coming in will bring attitude, and I know they want to work hard,” Collins said.

Collins also wanted to add height. He did that by signing Corey Morris (6-10, 255) and Paul Davis (6-9, 195).

“It’s no secret we needed some post players,” Collins said. “And I’ve had some good success when I’ve had a good center, so we think both of those guys will help.”

Morris averaged 13 points, 10.5 rebounds and three blocked shots last season and helped Elizabeth City Northeastern to a 26-4 finish.

“This kid has such an upside, and I think a lot of schools just missed on him, so we’re thrilled about what he can bring to us,” Collins said.

Davis, the other tall recruit, said earlier this summer that he knows he’ll need to gain weight while at WSSU. He had an outstanding senior season for Marlboro County High School in Bennettsville, S.C., averaging 14 points, 17 rebounds and 8.8 blocks and shooting 65 percent from the field.

Michael Puckett, a 6-4 guard, will come in with some experience after playing two seasons at Clinton Junior College in Rock Hill, S.C. He averaged 16 points and three assists last season and averaged 21 points and five assists as a senior at Hugenot High in Richmond, Va. He’ll have two seasons of eligibility with the Rams.

Another guard, 6-1 Isiah Tucker of Raleigh, will come to WSSU with a good basketball pedigree. He’s the younger brother of P.J. Tucker, a former Texas star who now plays for the Toronto Raptors.

Tucker averaged 10 points, seven assists and seven rebounds last season and helped Word of God Christian win the NCISAA 1-A state title. He should jump right in at point guard to help out senior Roy Peake, who played the most minutes for the Rams last season.

“I needed a point guard,” Collins said. “Roy can’t play 40 minutes a game.”

The fifth eligible recruit for next season is Max Funderburke, a 6-3, 180-pounder from Charlotte. He played at Rockingham Community College last season and averaged 22 points.

The two recruits who didn’t qualify to play as freshmen are McIntoche Alcius, a 6-8 forward from Clayton, and Walter Brock, a 6-8 forward from Durham’s Mount Zion Academy. Collins said that Alcius will redshirt and that Brock probably will go to a junior college but might enroll at WSSU and redshirt.

Alcius, two years removed from Clayton High School, started college at Fayetteville State but never played there. He averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds and shot 52 percent from the field in his last high-school season.

One of the problems that Collins faces in recruiting is selling recruits on the program, even though the Rams won’t be eligible for the MEAC Tournament until the 2010-11 season.

“I sell them on being a part of something special for the next two or three years before we get that chance to be in the tournament,” Collins said. “This transition is something that’s reality, but we are selling them on getting this program rolling in Division I.”

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