Redhawks tab another junior college product

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Southeast Missouri State men's basketball coach Gary Garner has concentrated on making the Redhawks more athletic. He believes another step in that direction was taken Friday.

Garner announced the signing of the Redhawks' fifth player for next season -- and fourth junior college transfer -- in 6-foot-4 guard Eric Burtin from Iowa Central Community College.

Burtin, a graduate of Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Mo., earned all-region honors last season as he averaged 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds for a team that was 21-9.

"We're really happy to be able to sign him," Garner said. "He is a very athletic, big guard who is a complete basketball player. He was a point guard in high school, and he can actually play both guard positions and the 3 [small forward].

"I wouldn't say he's great at any one thing, but he plays the whole game, and he's a really good defender who takes a lot of pride in his defense. He's the type of player you win with."

Other junior college players signed by Southeast are 6-8 center Andrais Thornton from SMS-West Plains Community College, 6-6 forward John Chappell from Highland (Ill.) Community College and 6-4 guard/forward David Johnson from Meramec Community College in St. Louis.

The only high school player that Southeast has signed so far this year is 6-4 guard Eric Jones from Webster Groves High School in St. Louis County.

Garner said a recurring theme for the five signees is that they are all impressive athletes.

"We felt like that was one area we really needed to upgrade, and I feel like we've done that," Garner said. "Being more athletic should definitely help us with defense and rebounding, which were probably our weakest areas last year."

Garner said Southeast likely will sign at least one or two more players.

Among the notable high school seniors reportedly seriously considering Southeast are Vashon's Johnny Hill and Portageville's Willie Hassell.

Hassell is said to be waiting on a potential scholarship offer from Missouri, but if that doesn't come through he is reportedly leaning toward Southeast.

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