Load 'Em Up
Coach Dusty May has hit the ground running since being named FAU`s new basketball coach in March, while seeking to change the look, culture, and mainstream footprint of Florida Atlantic University Men’s Basketball.
One of the major reasons May was hired by new Athletic Director Brian White was because of his ability to recruit - something that prior coaching staffs have struggled with at times – and if his first fruits are any indicator of upcoming success the Owls are likely to make a splash in 2018-19.
Of immediate need, four of the team`s top contributors from last season - Seniors Ronald Delph, Gerdarius Troutman, Justin Massey, and Peyton Hulsey - have expired eligibility and must be replaced.
Additional roster holes were also created by transfers and decisional departures, leaving the Owls with nine scholarships open. Coming in as a full complement to address all of them, while reloading the roster back to full capacity, here is a breakdown of, and some background on, the newest Owls taking flight under May in his first recruiting class as a head coach.
Two-star shooting guard Kevaughn Ellis was the first recruit to sign in the May era, announcing his pledge via twitter. Ellis is a six-foot four inch shooting guard from Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Hamilton, Canada. Ellis was originally committed to UNC-Asheville before flipping to the Owls. Ellis also received offers from several other Division one programs such as Utah State, Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay.
His strengths include being able to create his own shot and driving to the rim. Ellis appears to be have natural ball handling skills, so it would not be a surprise if he finds minutes at point guard. With a strong summer Ellis should be in line for some minutes as a true freshman.
And if his offensive game can translate to college ball, coach May could have a true scorer. There are parallels between Ellis and current Florida Gators Shooting Guard Kevaughn Allen, a then-Dusty May recruit. Both are physical guards who are not afraid to make aggressive moves with the ball in their hands.
Coach May dove into the junior college ranks to land his second recruit, Richardson Maitre, a two-star point guard from Indian Hills Community College. Originally, Maitre was part of the class of 2016 but went the JUCO route while continuing to develop his game.
“It was a winning program, the coaches and my teammates were very team orientated”, Maitre said while reflecting on his two great years at Indian Hills.
Maitre, who is a junior and will be immediately eligible, played in some big games on the AAU and High School circuit and has also gone up against are Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram.
Indian Hills Community college is known nationally as one of the best junior college basketball programs in the nation. Maitre only lost one game last season at Indian Hills and can hopefully bring a winning pedigree here to Boca.
“I like to do a little bit of everything, I like to shoot, pass, but most importantly make all my teammates better”, Maitre said of what he will contribute as an Owl.
Being a part of something new is something that appealed to Maitre. As he is excited to help build this program from the ground up. “Coach May has proven that he can develop players”, Maitre said.
Coach Dusty May has a strong track record of developing point guards. He was part of a University of Florida coaching staff that developed Point Guard Kasey Hill into one of the best point guards in the SEC.
Hill became a first team all-defensive SEC player under May. May also helped turn recently graduated Florida Gator Point Guard Chris Chiozza into a first team all-conference performer this past season in Gainesville.
Maitre says he models his game after Chris Paul, George Hill and Damian Lillard. “They are all so versatile, they impact the game in so many ways”, said Maitre.
Maitre should do well in the Dusty May offense, one expected to offer more speed, and running in transition. It should be a great fit for the junior.
The first three-star recruit of the Dusty May tenure is six foot six small forward Jaylen Sebree from powerhouse IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. Sebree was a class of 2017 recruit but decided to take a year to develop his game in the prep ranks at IMG Academy.
In his high school years, Sebree played for one of the top AAU teams the nation, the Louisville Magic. At IMG, Sebree averaged 19 points per game and was an efficient shooter (57% from the field) this past year. He will not be the first Owl to have made at stop at IMG. Recently graduated Center Ronald Delph spent some of his amateur career at IMG before coming to FAU.
One of Coach May`s priorities was to recruit out of the prep ranks here in Florida. IMG is known to produce next level prospects such as Duke`s Trevon Duval and Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaacs. Keeping in line, Sebree was rated as the 32nd ranked player in Florida in the 2017 class and fielded offers from Xavier and Indiana.
Sebree should be in the rotation in the upcoming season. He had a year to develop physically since high school, and should be ready for Conference USA competition. The Owls have virtually no players returning at forward with experience except for Junior Jailyn Ingram.
Expect Sebree to battle with Senior Amir Smith, Senior Simeon Lepichev and the plethora of new faces for minutes at forward. The roster is low on “true bigmen”, and one might conclude Coach May will utilize the “stretch power forward position” to the help the team become faster. Sebree could thrive in that role.
In his initial press conference, Coach May emphasized being able to recruit in the state of Florida and more specifically in FAU`s backyard. Coach May stuck to his word, by landing the Sun-Sentinel Broward County Player Of the year Blanche Ely Point Guard Michael Forrest.
Forrest won two state championships in his high school career and averaged 23 points per game as a senior. He has exceled as a passer during his time at Blanche Ely, and thrives on defense.
Forrest is rated as a two-star recruit by most recruiting outlets. The two-time former state champion selected FAU over James Madison, Hofstra, American, Navy and Jacksonville.
The Owls gained some much-needed front court depth with the singing of Madiaw Niang from the DME Sports Academy. Niang has shown the ability to rebound well, protect the paint and has a high motor. His six-foot nine-inch frame adds great length to the team, and he could see some time at Center.
Noted as a prospect whose interest exploded late in the recruiting cycle, Niang also held offers from FIU, Stetson, Wyoming, Long Beach State and Oregon State. He has four years of eligibility.
Coach Dusty May jumped back into the junior college ranks with the signing of Guard Cedric Jackson, an Orlando native. Jackson comes to Boca Raton from Indian River State College in Ft. Pierce, FL.
This past season at IRSC, Jackson averaged 17 points per game and was named First Team-All Southern Conference. Attending IRSC paved the way for an opportunity to play Division I basketball at FAU.
He is a very athletic guard who likes to be aggressive in the open floor. During his time at IRSC, Jackson has developed into a better shooter. In his freshmen campaign he made 32% of his three pointers. In his sophomore year he improved to 36%. Jackson is immediately able to play, and has two years left of eligibility.
Another front court addition was made with the signing of Center Aleksandar Zecevic, a 6’-10” transfer from San Jacinto College.
Zecevic played his freshmen year at Motlow State Community College, where he averaged 9.0 points per game to go along with 6 rebounds per outing. His sophomore year was spent at San Jacinto College, where he averaged 6 points per game and 6 rebounds per contest.
During his two prior years of basketball he has shown some ability to shoot the ball from the outside. He has two years of collegiate basketball under his belt. Zevevic selected FAU over Akron, San Diego and South Carolina St.
The “graduate transfer rule” is something many rebuilding programs use to add veteran depth. FAU took advantage of this rule by adding Mississippi State forward Xavian Stapleton.
The six-foot six-inch wing has a long history with new head coach Dusty May. Originally, Stapleton was a 2014 recruit, who signed with Louisiana Tech. He spent his freshmen year playing under current Florida Head Coach Mike White and top assistant Dusty May. The 2014-2015 Louisiana Tech team won 27 games and were Conference USA Champions. As a freshman, Stapleton played in 36 games, averaging just under 7 points per game.
Stapleton spent his sophomore and junior seasons at Mississippi State. He played in a total of 55 games for the Bulldogs. His experience and familiarity playing in Conference USA should make for a great addition to the young team. He shot 33% from three-point range in his time at Mississippi State. Expect Stapleton to be in the rotation early on, as he is very familiar with Coach May.
Looking ahead to the 2019 season, FAU added Wright State transfer Everett Winchester. Due to NCAA rules he will be forced to sit out the upcoming season. The six-foot six Shooting Guard played in 33 games for Wright State, averaging 8 points per game. Winchester had a decorated high school and AAU career in Baltimore area.
During his lone season at Wright State, Winchester spent time at both guard spots. His biggest strength is his ball handling skills. This should give Coach May some added flexibility for the 2019 campaign. Due to NCAA rules Winchester will be forced to sit out the upcoming season.
The only returning bigs for next season are senior Simeon Lepichev and rising junior Jailyn Ingram. Only Ingram made an impact last season. It will be interesting to see how the new coaching staff handles minutes at forward and center, due to the lack of experience. Fans should be very pleased with Coach Dusty May`s first set of recruits. There will be many new faces wearing blue and red next season.
The point guard battle will be very interesting to watch as FAU returns just senior Anthony Adger. Expect the guard recruits Ellis, Maitre, Forrest and Jackson to get a long look by the new staff. The new coaching staff will have some big decisions to make. Expect loads of competition as we get closer to tip-off later in the year.
All incoming players are expected to be on campus by the end of the month, with limited team workouts, drills, and conditioning to begin immediately. Additional roster members in the form of preferred walk-ons are also expected.
The Owls will officially kick-off their 2018-19 season in November, with an opening date to be announced.