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GC adds length, athleticism with new class

By DUSTIN KENT 
News Herald Assistant Sports Editor 
Posted Aug 9, 2018 at 6:49 PM

 

The Gulf Coast men’s basketball team will have an almost entirely different look for the 2018-19 season with only one returning player who saw the court last season.

 

The roster will be supplemented with a nearly-complete recruiting class of seven players who will join a pair of returning Commodores who redshirted last season in Reggie Rivera and Filip Markovic.

 

Gulf Coast coach Jay Powell said that he still wanted to add another big player to finish out this recruiting class. Of the players he has already brought in, Powell said that he and his staff put a premium on recruiting players with a winning pedigree, as well as those that could bring more length and athleticism than the Commodores had on the roster last season.

 

“We really tried to focus on hard-nosed guys that had done a lot of winning previously and had been coached hard in their previous stops,” he said. “I believe we’ve been able to put together a good group of guys that will play their rear ends off for us and give us a chance to win a whole bunch of basketball games.

 

“We’re always looking for guys with the skill-set to help us win in the Panhandle Conference and we might have gone a little more with athleticism and quickness and jumping ability and less with physical thickness and strength coming in. Of course we’ll spend a lot of time in the weight room to get stronger, but we are longer across the board and a little more capable of playing around and above the rim.”

 

Maurice Gordon, a 6-foot-5 forward from Macon, Ga., is perhaps the most explosive player in the class who Powell described as “an extremely athletic basketball player who is long and runs well and plays above the rim.” Gordon averaged 11.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game as a senior for First Presbyterian Day, while his fellow Georgia product Cameron Holden brings a little more scoring punch.

 

The 6-5 wing from Forsyth, Ga., put up 28.4 points per game last year for a 23-win Mary Persons High School team, adding 10 rebounds and four assists per game as well. Powell said what stands out with Holden is his ability to put the ball in the basket from all areas of the court.

“Cameron is possibly the most natural scorer we’ve signed in this group,” he said. “He has good height and athleticism, and even though he’s not really that thick yet, he is able to get the ball to the hole and finish. He’s nice with the ball in his hands and can score at all three levels. He can get to the rim and shoot from the perimeter.”

 

Jerrel Kelly, a 6-8 left-handed forward from Sumter, S.C., could also be one of the top scoring options for the Commodores next season, though Powell said he’s capable of helping the team in a variety of ways.

 

“Jerrel might be overall our most prototypical player,” he said. “He’s really versatile, passes it well, can put it on the deck, can shoot it, and he can do a lot of things on the offensive end. Like many guys with his size he’s able to use his length and athleticism to get away with things on the defensive end, but he’s been pretty committed in the summer to working on those things.”

 

A third Georgia player, 6-1 guard Jacolbey Owens of Warner Robins, Ga., is a “tenacious defender” according to Powell and hit the game-winning 3-pointer last season to give the Demons their first-ever state title. Blountstown’s 6-1 KK Godwin gives GC a more offensive-oriented combo guard who averaged nearly 24 points per game as a senior while leading the Tigers to the 1A title game.

 

Powell added a pair of interior players in 6-9 Frenchman Yohan N’Dolo and 6-10 Jamal Burke out of Greenville, S.C. Their styles of play differ, however, with N’Dolo operating more in the paint with his back to the basket and Burke able to stretch the floor with shooting range stretching out to the 3-point line.

 

″(N’Dolo) probably has the most polished back to the basket game of anyone we have on the roster and he’s somebody much more apt to mix it up in the paint and get after it down on the block,” Powell said. “The best thing about Jamal on the offensive end right now is his ability to catch and shoot the 3-point shot, but he’s also a long shot blocker who can give you defense and rebounding. With some added strength, Jamal can be a very nice player.”

 

The freshmen will be counted on to play big roles for the Commodores immediately with the departures of every experienced player other than Kiely, who was sixth on last year’s team in scoring at 6.8 points per game while leading with five assists per contest.

 

“We’re going to be young,” Powell said. “We have to listen and work very, very hard because without a doubt we’re going to have several freshmen on the court at all times. We have to get back to work as soon as (the players get back from break) and continue that same work ethic and attitude they had during the summer because we don’t have time to mess around.

 

“We have to improve and do everything it takes to be ready by November, but really the goal is to be ready by January for conference games.”

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