Matt Brady was promising changes to the James Madison men's basketball team before last season had even ended.
"This has been a very challenging season, and it will not be repeated. In any way, shape, form or fashion. This will be a different team next year," Brady vowed after his team lost 67-64 at home to Drexel in the Dukes' regular season finale.
The first step in reshaping his team came about two weeks later, when Brady announced that freshmen Darren White, a conference all-rookie selection this past season, and Alvin Brown were leaving JMU.
Step two came Wednesday, when Brady announced the additions of two new players: Kentucky high school senior Chad Jackson and Wyoming transfer AJ Davis.
Brady said Wednesday afternoon that both players raise the talent level at JMU, and also bring the intangibles the coach was looking for.
"If you look at the player we've recruited, we continue to try and bring in all-league level players," Brady said. "And we did pay particular attention to guys that want to be here, that want to play at both ends of the court, and really want to challenge the guys in the program for minutes."
Jackson, a six-foot-four combo guard who was rated a two-star recruit by Scout.com, averaged 16.6 points a game as a senior at Scott County High School in Georgetown, Kentucky.
"When you watch Chad Jackson play, this kid doesn't care what position he plays. He doesn't care who he's guarding. He's a very, very competitive guy," said Brady.
"We compare him a lot to Julius Wells, in that he's got some ability that's really untapped," Brady added. "And if he ever reaches his potential, you're talking about an all-league player."
The six-foot-six Davis started 19 games and averaged 10.0 points this past season as a sophomore at Wyoming. But he left the program in early February, more than a month before the conclusion of the Cowboys' 10-21 season.
Brady said the JMU coaching staff had recruited the Columbus, Ohio, native when they first arrived in Harrisonburg. As a transfer, Davis will be required to sit out the 2010-11 season, then will have two more years of eligibility remaining.
"And I think his impact will be felt right away, when we start practicing," Brady said, "because he's going to give some of our wings somebody that they're really going to have to figure out how to guard. He's as talented as anybody we have in our program in terms of ability to score the ball."
The coach said his goal for this recruiting class was to find complimentary players who could fit around the core he said was already in place: guard Devon Moore and forwards Wells, Denzel Bowles, and Andrey Semenov.
"More than anything else, we needed to make practice more competitive," he said. "And we think that with the guys we have recruited, and are continuing to recruit, that this will clearly be the most talented team that we've had in our three years here."
According to various reports, Lakes (Washington) High School point guard Andre Winston and junior college shooting guard Jay Millen have both committed verbally to JMU.
Brady couldn't discuss the "two or three" uncommitted prospects the coaching staff is still recruiting, other than to say he hoped to announce more signings within the next few weeks.
"And then when we do, I think you're talking about a program that can be good not just for one year, but really for the foreseeable future," he said. "I think if we're healthy and we're lucky, the attitude permeates our program that we should be able to compete with anybody at this point."
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