ASHLAND — The Southern Oregon University men’s basketball team will enter the 2017-18 with far fewer questions than a year ago, when half of its total court minutes ended up going to freshmen.
But while their needs from newcomers won’t be as widespread, the Raiders still filled some holes with three signings ahead of the new season.
Brian McDermott, entering his 22nd season as head coach, announced Friday the signings of freshmen-to-be Tez Allen of Carson High (Nevada) and Grant Bellis of Vista del Lago High (California), as well as redshirt-sophomore Michael Polman, a transfer from Cerro Coso Community College (Calififornia).
Allen, Bellis and Polman will join a group of 10 returning players who helped the Raiders go 18-13 overall and 12-8 in the Cascade Conference with only one senior on the roster. They’ll bring back their top six scorers, including every starter and all-star guards Ben DeSaulnier and Tristen Holmes.
Allen, a 6-foot-6 forward, helped Carson to its first region title in 21 years, averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds as a senior. He also led the team in assists.
He was a first-team All-Sierra League selection, and had a career-best day on Dec. 2 with 42 points and 18 rebounds against Righetti High. He’ll instantly be one of the bulkiest players on SOU’s roster, but also provides flexibility after handling most of his team’s point guard duties.
Allen will provide depth as former South Medford player Hunter Bradford recovers from knee surgery.
“We think Tez is exactly what the doctor ordered as far as what our needs are," said McDermott. "He can help us inside for his freshman year and move to more of a perimeter position when Hunter returns. While already a pretty physical dude at 6-6, he has a frame that should allow him to become a force in our league. He plays very big inside but probably his best skill is how well he passes the ball, both from the low post and facing the basket."
Bellis, at 6-5 and 200 pounds, brings scoring ability and a physical presence to the Raiders’ deep group of wings.
He was an all-state nominee after averaging 10 points for a Vista del Lago team that won a league title and reached the NorCal semifinals.
“Grant will provide depth on the perimeter," said McDermott. "We like that he is a big wing who can shoot the ball very well, but has a sneaky way of finding other different ways to score. He gives us another big, smart wing with range, and you can’t have too many of those guys.”
Polman, a 5-11 guard, spent last year in the California Collegiate Athletic Association after redshirting the 2015-16 season at William Jessup University out of high school. At Cerro Coso, he averaged 14 points and was a 41-percent shooter from 3-point range and an 80-percent shooter at the free-throw line.
“Michael will give us depth at the point guard position and he’s a really, really good shooter," said McDermott. "He’s someone you can put on the floor for spacing and ballhandling purposes and is just a very skilled guy. We felt lucky to find him fairly late in the recruiting process.”