McMahon wraps up recruiting with 3 additions
Recruiting is like breathing. If you stop, you die.
So, head coach Matt McMahon and his staff are always recruiting and this spring they signed three more players to go with the three they signed last fall – Anthony Smith, Brion Whitley, and Devin Gilmore.
Smith is a 6-7 forward from Barton County Community College. He was an all-conference and all-region selection last season after averaging 12.7 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 61 percent from the field.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and Anthony is one of my all-time favorites,” Barton County head coach Craig Fletchall said. “He works hard, he competes, and he’s a winner. He was our captain and leader. Anthony helped us to 43 wins here at Barton in the last two years. I like his toughness and his willingness to rebound. Murray State will enjoy having him for the next two seasons.”
A 2-star Future 150 recruit coming out of high school, Smith is a wiry athlete who has a nose for the ball. He plays very hard and is content to battle with bigger players in the low post, only taking six 3-pointers all of last season. And he has a reputation for playing very hard.
“Anthony is just a tough warrior type forward,” McMahon said. “I expect him to make an impact both on the court and in the locker room. He’s a leader and he has a winner’s mentality.”
Whitley is a 6-4 guard from Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida. He averaged 19.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and three assists last season. He scored 44 points and was named MVP of the Sarasota/Manatee All Star game. He is a two-time All-Sarasota/Manatee first team selection.
“Brion has a great motor, and is a fierce competitor,” Riverview head coach B. J. Ivey said. “He’s an explosive player, and can score the ball in many ways. He has a way of making big plays that excites the crowd. He’s an FCA Huddle leader and he’s a strong student in the classroom. Brion has strong communication skills and is very outgoing. This a great opportunity for him at Murray State and I’m looking forward to seeing him play and develop in coach McMahon’s program.”
A 3-star Scout recruit, Whitley signed with North Carolina Wilmington last fall, but was granted a release due to a coaching change. ESPN says, “Whitley is an active wing that competes on both ends of the floor. He has good size and strength for his age as well. He can get to the rim on the break, where he can finish on a consistent basis. He scores in the halfcourt with a quick first step.”
“Brion is a physical, strong guard,” McMahon said. “He’s an excellent 3-point shooter. I think he’s really going to help with our depth on the wing.”
Gilmore is a 6-6 forward from Madison-Ridgeland Academy in Mississippi. He averaged 18.6 points and 7.2 rebounds last season, and was named the Mississippi Independent Schools State Class 4A D-I Player of the Year as a junior and senior. He was also a two-time Clarion Ledger 3rd Team All-State selection.
“Devin came to us in the ninth grade and he was a varsity player from the start, and we won the state title that first year with him,” MRA head coach Richard Duease said. “Devin played inside for us, but as a senior we played him at the three and he just took off. His upside is tremendous. He’s very coachable, and I think Murray State is getting a great player. He’s going to be very happy there and Murray is going to be happy with him. He said when he got to Murray on his visit, he just knew that was the right place.”
A 3-star Future 150 recruit, Gilmore told Scout.com that he had received offers from Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and had drawn interest from several other high-majors including Syracuse, UCLA, Texas A & M, and Kentucky.
“He comes from a winning program and he’ll bring a lot of length and athleticism to our frontcourt,” McMahon said. “He has a tremendous upside as a player. He’s a very good slasher, and he can play above the rim.”
The Racers signed Shaq Buchanan, Ja Morant and Tevin Brown last fall.
Buchanan, a 6-3 guard from Northeast Mississippi Community College earned NJCAA all-conference and all-region honors for his play this year.
“Shaq had a great year at Northeast Mississippi,” McMahon said. “He averaged about 19 points and seven rebounds. He led his team to another 20 win season. They lost in the state championship game, but he had a tremendous sophomore season.”
Ja Morant, a 6-2 point guard from Crestwood High School in Dalzell, South Carolina, was chosen to play in the Carolinas All-Star Classic, and was a first team all-state selection. He had 34 points and 11 rebounds in one game. You don’t see many 6-2 point guards grab 11 rebounds in a single game.
“Ja put up video game like statistics,” McMahon said. “He’s very skillful and athletic, but he also has a very high basketball IQ. He’ll continue to get stronger this summer. He had a great senior year, and left a great legacy at Crestwood.”
Tevin Brown is a 6-5 guard from Fairhope, Alabama.
“Tevin scored more than 2,000 points in his career,” McMahon said. “He’s an elite 3-point shooter with deep NBA range. He can really score the basketball. He needs to continue to get stronger, but he had a great senior year.”
Both the newcomers and the returning players will be on campus this summer for conditioning and individual instruction. And, for the first time, they’ll be here for Hoopalooza August 4-5.
“I’m really excited about this year’s Hoopalooza,” McMahon said. “We’ll be honoring Popeye Jones, and we all know what a tremendous ambassador he has been for Racer basketball and Murray State University. I’m really excited to have him back and a lot of other former players will be here as well. I spoke to Isaiah Canaan the other day and he’s excited about coming back.”
The schedule for the 2017-18 season is still taking shape.
“The schedule was on hold over the last month,” McMahon said. “But we have a good bit of it completed. We’ll host Middle Tennessee and Southern Illinois. We’ll have road games at Illinois State, Detroit and Wright State.
“We’re going to an 18 game league schedule for OVC play and I think that will be good because it’s so hard to get home games. We’ve been working on putting a tournament of our own together either this season or next season. The way things are going it’ll probably be next year. And then, we’ll play a money game on the road. We’re talking to several ACC, SEC, and Big 12 teams.”