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Mens Basketball

Raiders load up with new recruits

Brian is one thoroughbred away from hitting a recruiting trifecta.

The Southern Oregon University men&

s basketball coach will lose a couple of horses to graduation, but he&

s trying to restock his stable largely with players from the region.

On Thursday, signed Grants Pass post Jason Nunnemaker to a scholarship.

Two weeks ago, high-scoring Roseburg post Eric Thompson inked with the Raiders.

As recruiting enters the stretch run, only Hidden Valley guard Jordan Hayter is left to be reined in from southern Oregon.



s what we&

re hoping,&

said , who, in 10 seasons with the Raiders, has elevated the program to national prominence. &

He told us we&

re No. — right now.&

The 6-foot-3 Hayter averaged 16.2 points as Hidden Valley won the Class 3A state championship with a 27-1 record, and he was named state player of the year.

was on the ground floor in recruiting Hayter and was cognizant of the Mustang star&

s athleticism &

Hayter was one of the state&

s top defenders and excels in the pole vault and hurdles in track. But the coach gained even more of an appreciation when Hayter played pick-up ball with the Raiders last week.


I knew he was good,&

said . &

I didn&

t know he was that good.&

— — — Nunnemaker

Hayter confirmed SOU is his top choice. He&

s comfortable with the coaches and players and is intrigued about playing with so many friends from southern Oregon. (The Raiders also have former Grants Pass player Matt Cowell and &

s son, Josh, who played at Ashland.)

Recruiting interest in Hayter escalated after the state tournament. He&

ll visit NCAA Division II University of Alaska Anchorage late next week and expects to make his decision upon returning.

In the meantime, he&

s visiting community colleges in the Albany and Portland areas this weekend to showcase his skills. playing junior-college ball, he could transfer to a four-year program without restriction.

His dream has been to play at the highest level, NCAA Division I.


I don&

t want to rush into anything,&

said Hayter, who also received late interest from Western Oregon.

feels good about SOU&

s chances, but, he said, &

in recruiting, until you have them, you don&

t have them.&

Two other players, both from College of the Siskiyous, have signed with the Raiders: 6-4, 250-pound post Chris Rodriguez; and 6-0 off-guard Daveoncq Fleming.

hopes to sign three more players, including two point guards.

The Raiders, ranked No. — in the nation for part of last season, went 23-9 and lost in the first round of the national tournament.

Gone from that team are five seniors, including Shea Washington, the school&

s all-time leading scorer, and fellow post Jeff Williams, a strong rebounder.

acknowledged that Washington is incomparable, but he said SOU went a long way toward filling the post holes with Thompson and Nunnemaker.


I didn&

t think we&

d ever get two high school post kids in the same class as good as the two we have coming in,&

said . &


s just not going to happen in our situation.&

The 6-7 Thompson was the state&

s second-leading scorer at 25.2 points per game. He began high school as a point guard, but a growth surge landed him in the paint.


We think he&

s as skilled a big man as you&

ll find,&

said , noting Thompson is comfortable with his back to the basket as well as facing it or taking the ball outside. &


ve seen him take a rebound, go the length of the floor and make the right play. We think he has a chance to be a special player at our level.&

Thompson, who was shunned in all-state voting &

he didn&

t receive so much as honorable mention &

developed strong ties to the SOU coaches and &

really felt wanted.&

When he saw the Raiders play and realized how strong they were, &

that made me want to go even more.&

Nunnemaker, 6-7, averaged 15.5 points per game for Grants Pass and is expected to provide a strong post presence.


I can&

t fill Shea&

s shoes,&

said Nunnemaker, &

but I can sure try.&

labeled him &

much more of a post guy.


The good thing about Jason is he&

s a very good post defender.&

The idea of joining Thompson and possibly Hayter, with whom Nunnemaker was a teammate for years before Hayter transferred to Hidden Valley, is particularly appealing.


We know how each other works,&

said Nunnemaker, who has played on all-star teams with Thompson. &

As far as college, you usually don&

t have players coming in who have played together. It should be easy to come together.&