AGGIES ANNOUNCE NEWCOMERS FOR 2009-10
Aggies add three wing players, defensive stopper
GREENSBORO, June 24, 2009 â€“ If there ever was a recruiting class that personified what North Carolina A&T menâ€™s basketball coach Jerry Eaves likes in a player, the 2009-10 class is it.
Eaves announced the completion of his 2009-10 class on Wednesday with signing of four future Aggies. Three of the players are between 6-foot-5 and 6-8, have impressive wing spans and can do a variety of things on the basketball court. While shorter than the other three, the fourth also has an impressive wing span and loves to play defense.
Austin Witter, DaMetrius Upchurch, Lawrence Smith and R.J. Buck are looking to lead the Aggies to championship glory over the next four seasons. â€œWe will have tremendous athleticism this season,â€™â€™ said Eaves, who is entering his seventh season as the Aggies head coach. â€œWe will be able to really get after people with our pressure because we can come at people in waves with long, athletic players.â€
Witter (6-8, 190 pounds, Princeton Junction, N.J.) can play as a shooting guard or a small forward. He averaged 14.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, 6.6 blocks, 3.8 assists; shot 47 percent from the field and from 3-point range. Witter also recorded nine triple doubles, and led West-Windsor South to the best record in school history at 24-4.
The Trentonian named Witter its 2008-09 Colonial Valley Conference Player of the Year after he led the Pirates to the CVC Colonial Division title and the Central Jersey Group IV championship.
â€œAustin is a four-year Ed Jones,â€™â€™ said Eaves, comparing Witter to the 6-8 Jones who led the Aggies in scoring last season. â€œHe can really handle the ball, he can shoot the three and he will dunk it on your head. Before he leaves A&T, I envision him playing shooting guard. But he is one of those young men who can do a lot of things for you.â€
The only in-state signee in this class is Upchurch (6-7, 208, Garner). Upchurch will likely play the power forward position for N.C. A&T. Upchurch averaged 19.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game for the Garner Trojans last season. He is a two-time All-Greater Neuse River Class 4A Conference performer.
He was also named the 2008-09 Greater Neuse River Player of the Year, a second-team All-Triangle selection and earned a roster spot on the North Carolina East/West All-Star Game. Upchurch led the Trojans to an 18-10 overall record, a 13-1 conference record and a second round game in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state playoffs.
â€œI really like this young man,â€™â€™ said Eaves. â€œHeâ€™s got a great body and a great touch around the basket. He didnâ€™t get to show it a lot in high school, but he can step out and hit a 15-foot jump shot. Weâ€™ll also let him bang in the post. Heâ€™s a young man who will block some shots for us.â€
For the second straight year, the Aggies dipped into the deep talent pool at Bishop McNamara. A year ago, the Aggies signed point guard Marc Hill out of McNamara. This year Smith (6-5, 195, Bowie, Md.) will be the latest McNamara graduate headed to N.C. A&T.
Smith averaged 7.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game for the nationally-ranked program. He was named Washington Catholic Athletic Conference honorable mention. McNamara won 22 games last season, the most in school history. Smith had a 17-point performance against one of the best high school teams in the nation in St. Patrickâ€™s. He also played in the prestigious Capital Classic.
â€œHe comes from a winning program with loads of talent, so he didnâ€™t average that many points in high school,â€™â€™ said Eaves. â€œI think people will be surprised at his offensive output on the collegiate level. He has a tremendous body, and he is strong enough to help me in the post right away.â€
R.J. Buck (6-2, 175, Lusby, Md.) also played in the WCAC. He averaged 11.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game. WCAC honorable mention honors came his way last season at St. Maryâ€™s Ryken. As a junior, he led his team in rebounding.
â€œR.J. is a tremendous athlete,â€™â€™ said Eaves. â€œHe can take the ball between his legs in the air and dunk the ball. I can see him down the road being my defensive stopper. His length is really going to help me with my pressing style.â€