May 20, 2006

Men's Basketball Signs Four to National Letters of Intent

May 19, 2006

GREELEY, Colo. - University of Northern Colorado head men's basketball coach Tad Boyle announced the signing of four players to national letters of intent on Saturday. Devon Beitzel (Lafayette, Colo./Centaurus H.S.), Will Figures (Centennial, Colo./Smoky Hill H.S.), Neal Kingman (Greeley, Colo./Greeley West H.S.) and Jefferson Mason (Crystal, Minn./Robbinsdale Cooper H.S.) each signed with the Bears and will play for the program beginning in 2006-07.

"I am extremely pleased with the five incoming freshman to our program next year," said Boyle, who was named the 17th head coach in program history on April 25. "All the young men have had a tremendous impacts on their respective high school programs, and I expect them all to be very good players in the Big Sky Conference in years to come. They are all great young men who come from solid families. All five are good students and will represent our program well both on and off the court."

Beitzel (6'0, Guard) was a first-team all-state and All-Colorado selection after averaging 27.5 points per game as a senior, a figure that led all 4A players, for head coach Mike Leahy at Centaurus High. He had 12 30-plus point games, including a career-best 47 points against Fountain-Fort Carson in the state tournament, during his senior season. He was also selected as the Daily Camera Player of the Year twice during his career. His Warriors team finished the 2006 season 19-7 overall, were 11-2 in the Skyline Conference and lost to Broomfield in the Elite 8 of the state tournament. He has been selected to play in the Colorado High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) All-State game this summer and already participated in The Show all-star game at the Pepsi Center in April, where he scored seven points as a member of the winning blue team.

"Devon is a kid who just knows how to score," said Boyle. "He is deceptively quick and fast. His work ethic and competitiveness will set a standard in our program that will raise the bar. I am excited about Devon staying home to play his college basketball."

Figures (5'9, Guard) averaged 19.6 points and hit 82.8 percent of his free throws for coach Russ Shaw at Smoky Hill High School. A second-team all-state selection, he held the Buffaloes to a 21-6 overall record, a 10-4 mark in the Centennial League and a 5A state semifinal berth where they lost 65-60 to eventual state champion Mullen. Figures has also been selected to participate in the CHSCA All-State game and was a participant in The Show all-star game where he scored 10 points for the White team. He had a game of 32 points against Legacy (12/20/05) during his senior year.

"Will is the kind of player that our fans and the city of Greeley can truly be excited about watching over the next four years," said Boyle. "His ability to shoot the three and get the ball in the lane is a combination that will allow him to be a legitimate Division I point guard."

Kingman (6'6, Forward) was a 4A all-state selection as a senior after averaging 17.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game for coach Bill Whitehead. He was named the Northern Conference Player of the Year and the Greeley Tribune Athlete of the Year for boys' basketball. He helped the Spartans to an 11-4 mark in the Northern Conference and the second round of the 4A state playoffs. He will also play in the CHSCAA all-state game this summer. He had a 30-point performance against Sterling (1/6/06) during his senior season. He was also a member of the Greeley West track and field team and member of the National Honor Society.

"Neal is a player who is just scratching the surface in terms of his ability as a basketball player," said Boyle. "With his size, athletic ability and skills as a shooter, Neal can truly be as good as he wants to be. With a good summer and fall, I think he can have an immediate impact in our program."

Mason (6'5, Guard/Forward) averaged over 21 points per game as a senior at Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope, Minn. for coach Kurt Pauly. The Hawks team captain, his point per game average ranked 19th in the state of Minnesota (all classifications). He led his team to the 4A state finals, losing 69-53 to Hopkins in the title game and was named to the state's all-tournament squad. The Hawks were 27-4 overall in 2006, were a perfect 14-0 in the North Suburban Conference and won 21 of their final 23 games. He scored 29 points in a 75-47 win over Minnetonka on Jan. 24 of this past season.

"Jefferson is a guy who has all the tools to be a fantastic wing player in the Big Sky Conference," said Boyle. "His ability to get the ball to the rim combined with his athletic ability make him a player that can provide a lot of highlights for us in years to come. I am very excited Jefferson will call Northern Colorado home for his college experience."

The group joins Darren Moore (Chino Hills, Calif./Ayala H.S.) who signed with the Bears in November's early signing period.

"I am extremely happy that Darren Moore will be on campus in August," Boyle said. "He is an integral part of this recruiting class. His ability to play numerous positions will allow him to be an invaluable player for us. Darren is a kid who loves basketball and has a work ethic that will make him a special player at Northern Colorado."

Northern Colorado will officially begin play in the Big Sky Conference in 2006-07.