Indians, Otahks to add recruits in coming days

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Southeast Missouri State University men's basketball coach Gary Garner expects to add two or three more players to his program's recruiting class during the spring signing period that begins today.

Garner, however, is not certain if the Indians will actually receive any national letters of intent today.

"Sometimes it doesn't always happen the first day or two," Garner said. "But we're happy with the way our recruiting is going."

Garner is confident that the Indians will add significant talent to the two players they landed during the early signing period in the fall: James White, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville; and 6-foot guard Paul Paradoski, a senior at Vianney High School in St. Louis.

Southeast lost just one full-time starter from last season, but replacing him won't be easy as center Brandon Griffin averaged 12.3 points and a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game. Finding a center from the junior-college ranks to fill Griffin's spot is a priority.

"We definitely need a big guy to take Brandon's place," Garner said.

The Indians also plan to sign a junior-college guard and that appears to be Ryan "Fuzzy" Belcher, a 6-2 sophomore at Florissant Valley Community College in St. Louis. He is the brother of former Nebraska star Cookie Belcher and former Southern Illinois player Marcus Belcher.

Florissant Valley coach Larry Graham said Tuesday that Belcher has given Southeast a verbal commitment and plans to sign with the Indians, although Graham isn't sure if Belcher will sign today.

Belcher, from Mexico, Mo., averaged about 13 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists per game as a sophomore. He holds the Norsemen's school record for steals and also led the squad in rebounding the past two years.

"He's a very good player, very athletic, and a great kid," Graham said. "He's very versatile, a great defensive player, and he's got really good hands.

"He's more of a combo guard, but he played the point for us and I'm sure he'll be able to play the point for them. A lot of pretty good schools wanted him. I think they're getting a very good player."

Garner is prohibited by NCAA regulations from commenting on prospective recruits until he receives their letters of intent.Women will sign several

Southeast women's coach B.J. Smith signed two players early and he plans to sign five or six more this spring, including three who are expected to fax Southeast their letters of intent today.

Unlike NCAA Division I men's basketball, where programs are prohibited from signing more than five players in any one year and more than eight during any two-year period, Division I women's basketball programs can sign as many players as they want each year as long as the NCAA limit of 15 scholarships is not exceeded at any time (men are limited to 13 scholarships).

The Otahkians had just 12 players on scholarship last season and they lost four seniors along with sophomore Shannon Proffit, who saw limited action the past two years and plans to transfer. So Southeast can sign up to eight new players.

Signing early with the Otahkians were 6-2 sophomore forward Tatiana Conceicso, who went on to earn first-team junior-college All-American honors at Western Nebraska Community College; and 5-5 sophomore guard Katrisha Dunn from Eastern Oklahoma Junior College.

Among three players who have reportedly committed to Southeast and plan to sign today is Charleston High School senior Missy Whitney, a 6-foot forward who was a first-team Class 3 all-stater.

Also expected to sign today are a pair of sophomore guards at Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg, 5-9 Simone Jackson and 5-8 Wanika Owsley.

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