Hounds optimistic about basketball signees

Freedom Newspapers

Sixth-year Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan feels pretty good about the team that’s in place for next season.

Eastern signed four players, all junior college transfers, to national letters of intent.

“I think we’re in good shape right now,” said Scanlan, who last season led the Greyhounds to a 12-16 record (6-6 Lone Star Conference South) and the school’s fourth LSC tournament berth in five years. “You never want to feel too good, but I think we’ve got a good group.

“Short of something unforeseen coming up, our recruiting is finished for this year.”

The signees, all of whom will be juniors in eligibility, are 6-3 guard Justin Redman-Trotter, who is from Milwaukee and played two seasons at Northern Iowa Area Community College; 6-0 point guard Earl Fortenberry of Picayune, Miss., who sat out last year after playing two seasons at Eastern Wyoming J.C., and two players from South Plains College in Levelland, Texas — 6-4 guard Dwight Collins of Detroit and 6-5 forward Kendall Clark of Overland Park, Kan.

Clark and Fortenberry are taking classes this summer, but Scanlan believes both will be eligible for the fall semester.

“We’ll know everything by the end of June,” he said.

Six players who saw significant floor time last season return — senior first-team All-South point guard Tristan Largent, senior guard Stephen Wilson, sophomore forward Jake Holladay and senior forwards Ira Cross, Mikal Monette and Donald Young. Scanlan said Monette, who averaged 12 points and seven rebounds en route to second-team All-South honors, should be completely recovered from a knee injury he sustained late in the season.

Scanlan said the Hounds get depth at the point in Fortenberry. While Largent led the team in scoring (13 ppg) and assists (3.4 apg) in 2005-06, Scanlan said Fortenberry is more a prototypical distributor at that position.

Redman-Trotter was second in his conference in scoring last season at nearly 17 ppg.

“Justin was signed to replace Travis Carr, who decided he didn’t want to play any more,” Scanlan said. “Travis was basically a 3-point shooter. Justin can shoot a 3, but he’s more of a slasher.”

Clark gives the Hounds athleticism at the forward slot while Collins provides a shooter, Scanlan said. South Plains, which plays in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference, went 24-8 last season.

“We’re pretty well-situated, if we can just keep it that way,” Scanlan said. “We’ve covered our needs — we’ve got a point guard to play with Tristan, and we’ve addressed our perimeter needs.

He said the Hounds expect additional help from 6-3 junior guard Kevin Davis, who missed all of the 2005-06 season with a dislocated shoulder, and 6-4 forward Rece Hampton, who enrolled in midyear at ENMU.

“I think we’re as deep as we’ve ever been,” Scanlan said. “I think we’ll have a real competitive atmosphere at each position in practice.”