Memphis standouts sign with Redhawks men's hoops program

Friday, November 12, 2010

Southeast lands highly regarded prep players Nino Johnson and Telvin Wilkerson

Southeast Missouri State men's basketball coach Dickey Nutt couldn't have been happier on the second day of the NCAA's weeklong early signing period.

Nutt landed the two touted high school seniors from Memphis, Tenn., he coveted. Southeast announced their signings Thursday.

In the fold are Nino Johnson, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound power forward at perennial national power White Station High School, and Telvin Wilkerson, a 6-3, 190-pound shooting guard at nationally ranked Melrose High School.

Wilkerson and Johnson are rated as three-star recruits on a five-star scale by rivals.com. Both had scholarship offers from quite a few major programs, according to various recruiting websites.

"It's a very, very big day for us. We are really excited," Nutt said. "I feel like Memphis is one of the top basketball cities and I feel good about getting two of the top players in that area.

"These guys were highly recruited. They turned heads every time they stepped on the floor. What's exciting to us, they're on outstanding teams that are nationally known."

Johnson recently was ranked the nation's No. 17 high school power forward by ESPN's college basketball recruiting website. ESPN rated Johnson as a four-star recruit on a five-star scale.

Johnson, who averaged about 10 points and seven rebounds as a junior last year, said Auburn, Cincinnati, Charlotte, DePaul, Georgia Tech, Mississippi, Missouri State and Murray State also offered scholarships.

Johnson's White Station team went 28-9 and finished as the Tennessee Class AAA state runner-up last year. The squad featured guard Joe Jackson, among the nation's top recruits who now is at Memphis.

"Nino is very strong, physical and skilled," Nutt said. "He is an outstanding player who also carries a 3.5 GPA."

Wilkerson plays for a Melrose squad that is among the nation's top-rated high school teams and features three top-100 national prospects.

Wilkerson averaged about seven points, four rebounds and three assists per game as a junior last season.

He shot 57 percent from 3-point range (20 of 35), 50 percent from the field overall and 73 percent from the free-throw line.

Melrose went 36-4 last season and won Tennessee's Class AAA state title, beating Johnson's White Station club 75-70 in the championship game.

Wilkerson said he received scholarship offers from the likes of Missouri, Iowa State, Nebraska and Penn State.

"Telvin has the athletic ability and physical makeup that we are looking for," Nutt said. "He has the ability to be multidimensional and he is an exceptional young man."

Nutt praised Southeast assistant Jamie Rosser for playing a major role in landing Johnson and Wilkerson. Rosser is a Memphis native who also has been a high school coach in that city.

"I think Jamie Rosser deserves a lot of the credit. He developed a relationship with those young men," Nutt said. "Being in the high school ranks where he was over the years, to be able to develop a relationship with the coaches is important."

Johnson and Wilkerson fill Southeast's two available scholarships, although Nutt is hopeful the Redhawks will have one more pending future Academic Progress Rate results. Southeast currently is down one scholarship due to APR penalties.

"I think we're on pace to get our 13th scholarship back for next year," Nutt said.

The way Nutt sees things, Johnson and Wilkerson are part of a stellar four-man recruiting class for next season even if Southeast doesn't sign another player.

That's because Nutt considers forwards Tyler Stone and Michael Porter new recruits for 2011-12 even if they already are in the program.

As transfers -- Stone from Missouri and Porter from Missouri State -- the pair can practice with the team but must sit out the season under NCAA guidelines.

Stone and Porter, who is from Sikeston, Mo., both will have three seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2011-12. There is a chance Porter will have four years left pending a future decision by the NCAA.

"With Tyler Stone and Michael Porter, it's just like having four new recruits," Nutt said. "Those four will make us a better team next year."

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