Redhawks look to restock rosters

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Southeast Missouri State men's basketball coach Gary Garner expects to add several players to his program's recruiting class during the spring signing period that begins Wednesday, although Garner doesn't expect the Redhawks to actually receive any national letters of intent for at least a while.

"We never really get anybody on the first day," Garner said. "But in the next two or three weeks, we expect to sign some, and I think we're going to have a good recruiting year.

"Every year I think recruiting can be okay, but we're in on so many more kids this year, I feel good about it."

The Redhawks lost the bulk of their scoring and rebounding from this past season, so Garner knows filling certain holes will be vital.

Although the Redhawks appear to be fairly set at guard, finding some capable inside players to offset the graduation losses of top scorers and rebounders Dainmon Gonner and Reggie Golson will be key.

"We need some inside players, mainly guys who can rebound and defend," Garner said. "They don't have to be great scorers, because I think we'll be able to score. But they have to be able to rebound and defend, which were two of our weaknesses this year."

Southeast signed one player during the early fall period, 6-foot-7 forward Tyrell Curry from State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Mo. Garner believes he will be a key player for next season.

The Redhawks have four more available scholarships, but could wind up signing an additional player or two if some of the current roster members elect to transfer, which could happen.

Eric Jones, a 6-4 forward from Webster Groves High School in suburban St. Louis, has given Southeast a verbal commitment, but 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, whose squad returns many of its key players, said he plans to sign three or four players this spring although, like Garner, he doesn't expect any letters of intent for at least several days.

The Redhawks signed two players early, including Dexter High School senior Rachel Blunt, a 6-foot, all-state forward.

Southeast's other early signee has not officially been announced, per university policy regarding players still needing to fulfill certain summer academic responsibilities in order to be eligible.

But Labette (Kan.) Community College coach Josh Matthews told the Southeast Missourian that 6-6 center Joiceline Thesing signed with Southeast. She has to pass a summer class to be eligible, but Matthews expects that to happen.

"I don't envision a problem with her qualifying," Matthews said. "She's working at it real hard."

Thesing, a native of Brazil who would be the tallest player in Southeast women's basketball history, was a two-year starter at Labette. This past season she averaged about 11 points, six rebounds and nearly four blocked shots per game for a 26-6 team that was ranked in the top 30 nationally for much of the year.

"She's a really, really strong kid who takes up a lot of room in the middle, and she's agile; she can get up and down the floor," Matthews said. "She can change the game with her size alone. I think her best basketball is ahead of her. She was recruited by a lot of big schools from around the country, and I think she can make an impact for SEMO."

Smith said the Redhawks have to find replacements -- either from within the program or through recruiting -- for the two starters they lost in center Chandra Brown and guard Brandi Russia.

"That will be big," Smith said. "But I feel good about our recruiting. We're battling some big schools, but I feel like we have a chance to have our best recruiting class."

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