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Tyrome Sharpe goes in for a layup during the 2015 All-Star Classic at Gulf Coast. Sharpe is part of the Commodores' 2015 recruiting class.

Powell close to completing '15 class

By DUSTIN KENT | Assistant Sports Editor | Twitter: @PCNHDustinKent

Published: July 16, 2015 at 6:21PM

 

 

PANAMA CITY — Gulf Coast was just one win away from making it to the state tournament last season. Commodores coach Jay Powell is hoping his newest batch of recruits will help him get over the hump next year.

 

Powell has signed six freshmen and taken one transfer, leaving only one spot remaining to fill out the class. He had to replace several rotation players, including sophomores Jonathan Wade, Elliott Cole, Anton Waters, and freshmen Ruben Monroe, DeMario Beck, and starting point guard Quavius Copeland.

 

Copeland, who has since signed with Middle Tennessee State, was perhaps Gulf Coast’s best player in Panhandle Conference play, averaging 14 points and shooting 38 percent from the 3-point line during the 12 league games.

 

Getting the first chance to replace him will be a familiar face to Panhandle basketball fans, as former Chipley guard Tyrome Sharpe steps in to the role of the Commodores’ lead guard.

 

Powell said he loves the 6-foot Sharpe’s physicality and his winning pedigree.

 

“Tyrome is strong and athletic and a good basketball player and he also brings two state championships under his belt,” the coach said. “We’re excited about having that at the point guard position.”

 

Sharpe started as a freshman on the 2011-12 state championship Chipley team and helped lead the Tigers to another title as a senior, nearly averaging a triple-double in the final four with 10.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game.

 

“We try to recruit from good programs as often as we possibly can,” Powell said. “With Tyrome, you’ve got a talented young man from a winning program. Everybody knows he had a great player (Trent Forrest) playing with him at Chipley, so that part of getting Tyrome is nice too. He’s used to being able to share the basketball and run things for somebody else, and that’s what a point guard in college is going to be doing.”

 

Joining Sharpe in the backcourt is 5-foot-10 Louisville transfer Trent Gilbert, who played just four games as a freshman for the Cardinals and scored six points in 16 total minutes.

 

Gilbert is a big-time shooter, knocking in 130 3-pointers as a senior at Scott County (Ky.) and could provide valuable long range shooting that Gulf Coast lost last season after the injury to Elliot Cole.

 

“Trent is the old-fashioned version of a gym rat. He’ll stay in the gym and shoot the basketball for five hours a day,” Powell said. “He’s a hard-nosed kid who likes to compete and loves the game. We’re excited to see where he’ll fit in. Kind of like with Elliot, he’ll limit how much and how often people can play zone against us. We’ll run some sets to get him open shots. We’re pretty excited about him.”

 

The Commodores added another sharpshooting guard from Kentucky who Powell also likened to Cole in Marshall Griffith out of Owensboro, Ky.

 

“I was able to watch Marshall over the Christmas break and he really reminded me a lot of Elliot Cole with a little

better shot selection,” he said. “He brings some good skills to the guard position. He was one of the better players in the Owensboro area and we think he’ll be a good player for us.”

 

The addition of more capable outside shooters was no coincidence after the Commodores struggled at times last season to consistently shoot from distance, particularly after the injury to Cole after the first round of conference games.

 

“I think you always want some men who can shoot the ball and put it in the basket and with Trent Gilbert and Marshall Griffith we were able to find that,” Powell said. “We did try to concentrate on some guys who could make shots. There were some times (last season) we needed somebody that could just knock down a couple of

3-pointers for us to loosen things up.

 

“If we can stay almost the same or get a little better in the other areas but shoot it substantially  better from the 3-point line, that can take us from almost getting to the state tournament to actually getting there.”

 

Gulf Coast added to its perimeter rotation with a pair of wing players in 6-7 Jeremy Harris of Greensboro, N.C., and 6-4 Donovan Franklin of St. Louis, with Powell saying both provide extra value by being able to handle multiple positions.

 

The same could be said for 6-6, 215-pound HabibGaye from the Bronx, who Powell said has the toughness to play both power forward and center despite having a more typical wing player’s size.

 

Enterprise High School’s Johnny Williams probably won’t play multiple positions for Gulf Coast, but he has the chance to play a valuable role for the Commodores next season.

 

At 6-10 and 280 pounds, he could provide some much-needed size and toughness on the interior lost by the departures of Waters and Folorunsho Akande.

 

“He didn’t play a ton of AAU, so he’s been able to be under the radar, but we’re excited about getting him here in August. He has a huge upside and a lot of ability,” Powell said of Williams. “I don’t want to put undue pressure on him at this point, but because of his size and ability to get off the floor and play physically very strong in the low post area, he’s one of those guys that in a couple of years could be recruited at a very high level.

 

“The most important thing for us is he gives us somebody that’s going to take up space and move well, someone we’ll be able to dump the ball down there to and he should be able to go to his left hand or his right hand, and if he draws a double team kick it to the open man.”

 

Powell said that he is still hoping to use the last open spot before the fall and is honing in on a pair of frontcourt prospects to get qualified, though he declined to give their names.

 

 

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