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Gaffney adding size to 2020-21 squad

Panama City, FL:  In Phil Gaffney’s first season as head coach at Gulf Coast, he found himself leading a Commodore team short on shooting and, well, just generally short.

With his first full recruiting class all but wrapped up, Gaffney may have put together a team that will have no issues in either area in 2021.

The Commodores return six players from last year’s team along with redshirt freshman Zamuel Compere, and Gaffney has added seven newcomers to the mix.

Perhaps the most intriguing of the new Commodores is 6-foot-10 post player Roman Wilson, a former high-major prospect who didn’t play as a senior due to academic issues.

If the 220-pound big man from Kansas City can fulfill the potential he flashed earlier in his career, the Commodores could have a steal.

“We’re real lucky to have him,” Gaffney said. “He kind of just slipped through the cracks. I think he’s a diamond in the rough. He’s a super-skilled kid. He just hasn’t played basketball in two or three years. We just have to get him back in the swing of things.

“But he’s a great kid to take a chance on because he could turn out to be one of the best players in junior college basketball if he reverts back to where he was as a 10th grader when he was one of the top 100 players in the country.”

Wilson drew interest from the likes of Kansas, Kansas, State, and Oklahoma State early in his recruiting process, though academics prevented him from signing with a Division-I program.

“People just kind of forgot about him, which was great for us,” Gaffney said. “Now he’s focused and ready to get back to work in the classroom and on the court. We may not see results right away, but long term he could be a monster.”

Gaffney hopes that Wilson will be joined by another 6-10 interior force in Nigerian center Simeon German, but it’s unclear if the former Chipola signee will be able to secure a visa and leave his home country and make it to Gulf Coast before the season.

Fortunately for Simeon and the Commodores, the season doesn’t start until January of 2021, providing more time than usual for a potential resolution that allows him to get to Gulf Coast.

If Simeon does make it to campus, he has the size and ability to make an instant impact at both ends of the court.

“He can take people off the dribble and he can post up,” Gaffney said. ’He’s athletic and he’ll fit the press. He’s a 6-9, mobile, athletic big guy. He fits perfect in our system.“

There are no other classic post players in the new class, though they all seem to fit the new Gulf Coast mode of versatile, athletic, multi-positional players.

DeMariontay Hall of Washington High School in Atlanta averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks per game as a senior and gives Gulf Coast a high-flying combo forward at 6-6 who picked up basketball late but, according to Gaffney, has the potential to develop into a high-level player.

“He’s one of those guys that fits our system perfect,” he said. “He’s a freak athlete, long, athletic, super quick. He hasn’t been playing organized ball that long, but he’s got a massive upside. He’s another guy who might not come out of the gate strong, but two years from now he might be a dominant player.”

Six-foot Khyree Taylor gives Gulf Coast another New York City point guard along with returning sophomore Davonta Cook, while 6-3 Southern Nevada transfer and Las Vegas native Keelan Wickersham is a 3-point specialist with ball skills to match, according to Gaffney.

Trashawn Wilson, a 6-5 wing out of Douglasville, Ga., averaged 18.7 points per game as a senior and along with 6-3 Demond Brown of Baton Rouge provides a talented duo of shooters/scorers who can help the Commodores at multiple positions.

“They’re both real long and athletic and shoot the ball really well,” Gaffney said. “Where Trashawn can play 2-3-4, Demond can play 1-2-3. They’re very versatile, position-wise, and can play several spots on the floor. They can handle, shoot, and pass, and they’re very versatile defensively as well.”

That’s a common theme among the newcomers, whom Gaffney said are all ideal fits for the Commodores’ up-tempo style and along with the returning core of players will also help shore up some of the weaknesses of last year’s group.

“Most of these guys fit our pressing and running style very well. They’re all pretty athletic and quick and fit into what we want to do on offense and defense,” he said. “We recruit to our system and all these guys are perfect system guys and I think they compliment the guys coming back.

“I think we’ve got a lot more depth now with shooting and I think we’re a little more athletic as well.”