November 10, 2010

Hill adds five in first hoops recruiting class

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GREELEY -- New coach B.J. Hill has been heading up Northern Colorado’s men’s basketball recruiting efforts since he arrived in Greeley five years ago, so he’s as informed as anyone on the history of the program’s Division I recruiting efforts.

And he loves what he sees in the five players who inked today to join the Bears in their 2011 recruiting class.

“In terms of talent, upside and potential and character, as a group, this is the best class we’ve signed in the five years I’ve been here -- there’s no doubt,” Hill said of his first class as Northern Colorado head coach.  “I love what each brings to the table, in terms of what they eventually can be. This is a class that two or three years from now, we’re all going to be really excited about.”

Wednesday’s first day of this year’s fall signing period brought two high school guards to Hill’s program, a junior-college combo guard, and two big men.

Guards Dylan Elias (San Antonio/Taft HS), and James Davis Jr. (San Lorenzo, Calif./Arroyo HS) will join the Bears next year after standout high school careers, while guard-forward Aaron Hawk-Harris will continue his collegiate career after spending time at the College of Eastern Utah in Price, Utah.

In the frontcourt, Northern Colorado added on Wednesday an athletic high-flying forward in Tim Huskisson (Willard, Mo./Willard HS) and Brendan Keane, a bruising 6-9, 225-pound big man from Alameda, Calif., and St. Joseph’s of Notre Dame HS.

Elias and Huskisson have been on Northern Colorado’s radar for awhile, but Harris, Davis and Keane caught the eye of Hill and his assistants more recently. Harris, in particular, played at Eastern Utah for now-Bears assistant coach Chris Craig.

“This program is to the point now where the teams you’re competing against for recruits is getting better and better,” Hill said. “The upside to that is that the caliber of guys you’re bringing into the fold is getting better, but the other side is that it’s tougher to find guys who are under-recruited, who will come in with that chip on their shoulder.

“We still think, though, that there are some hidden gems in this group. Northern Colorado basketball has started to establish itself, and the type of player we like is apparent. We want guys who will play hard, play smart and play together, and this group fits into that mold.”

NORTHERN COLORADO 2011 MEN'S BASKETBALL EARLY-PERIOD SIGNEES

James Davis Jr. - 6-3, 185, shooting guard; San Lorenzo, Calif.
“The first time I saw James, the immediate image, the first thing that came to my mind was ‘Will Figures,’” Hill said. “When our fans and other followers of the program see him play over the next couple years, that’s something that I think his play will evoke. He can really score, yet he can handle it well enough where he can play the point, too. But when it comes down to it, he can really shoot the basketball and he’s a great leader.”

Dylan Elias - 6-0, 185, point guard; San Antonio, Texas
“Dylan comes from the same Texas Ambassadors program that Paul Garnica came from, but he was on a different team,” Hill said. “He committed to us back when Coach Boyle was still with us, committing back in January or before. He’s a strong, tough-minded leader who just understands the game. He’s got a very high IQ and is a great, great kid.”

Aaron Hawk-Harris - 6-4, 205, guard/forward; College of Eastern Utah
“Hawk reminds us a lot of Robert Palacios,” Hill said. “He’s got more of an offensive game than Robert had, but he brings those same sort of intangibles and toughness. With us losing Devon (Beitzel) and Chris (Kaba), we were looking for a guard with some size who could come in and contribute right away. Hawk will be that for us.”

Tim Huskisson - 6-5, 200, small forward; Willard, Mo.
“Tim is an athletic wing who’s another level type of athlete than what we’ve typically had here,” Hill said. “He’s a shoulders-at-the-rim kind of guy, who’s got huge upside and is a great kid who works hard. That’s the first thing I noticed about Tim, was that he was always in the game and always focused. He’s got long arms and uses them well on defense and uses them to attack the rim.”

Brendan Keane - 6-9, 225, power forward; Alameda, Calif.
“Brendan is the first guy we offered after I got the job, and we hung in there with him and stayed with him throughout the recruiting process and won him over,” Hill said. “He’s 6-9, 225 and skilled and fits everything we were looking for. He was a big get for us, and we’re really excited to add him. He’ll give us another big man to go along with Connor Osborne and Emmanuel Addo as we keep moving forward. Those three will play big for us.”