Monday, August 22, 2011

Men's Recruiting: Iona Adds Strong Group

Here's another in the series looking at players joining MAAC programs for the upcoming season.

Up now ...


- Ra'Shad James, 6-1 guard, transfer from St. Thomas Aquinas College

He averaged 12.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists over two seasons at the Division II level. James transferred to Iona after the 2009-10 season and was able to practice with the Gaels this past season. He is eligible to play this season and has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

"Ra'Shad is as good an athlete as you will see in Division I basketball," said Iona coach Tim Cluess. "It was a pleasure to have him in practice this past season as his ability helped push our guards to improve their overall game."

- Josh Gomez, 6-10, 200-pound center, Rice H.S., Bronx

He averaged 5.5 points per game this past season, but improved as the season progressed. Gomez posted 14 points against St. Raymond's to help lead Rice to its sixth-straight Archdiocesan AA varsity boys' basketball championship in a late-season game. He also posted a double-double on the regionally televised SNY Invitational with a 14-point, 10-rebound effort in a win over eventual New York State Federation Class AA champion Mount Vernon High School.

Nyandigisi Moikubo, 6-7, 205-pound forward, transfer from Cochise Junior College in Arizona.

Moikubo, known as "Digs" averaged 15.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game at the junior college level last season. Moikubo originally was at the University of Montana as a freshman (2008-09), but did not play there. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

"Digs is a tough, skilled forward who can score inside and out," said Cluess. "He is an extremely competitive player with a great feel for the game. We'll look for him to contribute for us next season."

- Taaj Ridley, 6-7, 215-pound forward, Lawson State CC of Alabama.

He averaged 15.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game last season. Ridley's freshman year was spent at Barton CC in Great Bend, Kan., where he averaged 9.4 points and 4.0 rebounds. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

"Taaj is a long, athletic wing player with three-point range," said Cluess. "He is a multidimensional forward that can score inside and out. More importantly he will add good length to our lineup on the wing."

Lamont Jones, 6-0 point guard, transfer from the University of Arizona.

Jones, known as "MoMo," started all 38 games as a sophomore for Arizona last season and averaged 9.7 points, 1.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He is seeking a "hardship" waiver, claiming he transferred to be closer to an ailing relative, that would make him eligible to play this season. The NCAA's ruling on that application will come next month. If rejected, Jones would have to sit out the traditional one-season as a transfer and be eligible for the 2012-13 season. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Jones was ranked as the No. 68 overall prospect in the country and the No. 11 point guard by to go with a scout grade of 88 by ESPN after he averaged 21.3 points and 8.0 assists per game as a senior in leading Oak Hill Academy to a 41-1 record. Jones attended three high schools in all, playing at Rice High School in NYC as a freshman and a sophomore and, then, as a junior at American Christian School in Aston, Pa.

ANALYSIS: The rich get richer. The potential preseason favorite to win the upcoming season's championship, needed some height and got it, particularly with Moikubo, who should be a nice book-end forward alongside Player of the Year candidate Mike Glover. Although Ridley is also 6-7, he is more of a wing player. The Gaels, already loaded at the wing and guard spots, got even more firepower there with Ridley and with James, who becomes eligible this season. Iona observers who saw practices last season claim that James was often the best perimeter player on the court and he is expected to have a significant impact this season. Gomez is a big-man project who needs to add some strength. If Jones gains his eligibility this season he becomes quality overkill, a second all-league quality point guard along with senior Scott Machado. If Jones has to wait a year to be eligible, then he becomes the perfect replacement after Machado's graduation. The strong incoming group, along with returning players, ensures the Gaels should be among the league's better teams for at least the next two or three seasons.


Guy Falotico said...

Great report!

Steve Amedio said...

Thanks, Guy ... and, as always, thanks for your insights.