Bridgewater, EMU Hoops Build Toward Future

By: Zac Choate Email
By: Zac Choate Email

Bridgewater's top names are gone from the men's basketball team.

D.J. Billups, Segar Jordan, Jake Johnson and Dominic Trawick, who led the Old Dominion Athletic Conference in scoring a season ago with 22 points a game, have graduated.

"We're losing over 80 percent of our scoring and 80 percent of our rebounding," said Eagles head coach Don Burgess.

That's also a reason why Bridgewater will see 10 incoming freshmen next season.

"These guys that are coming in, they looked at it as an opportunity to get equal playing time and earn a lot of minutes early on," said Burgess, who recently finalized his second recruiting class.

Carthage (Tx.) High School standout Tavis Stapleton headlines B.C.'s class. Stapleton, a 6-3 forward, averaged 19.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 blocks and 2.1 steals a game for the Bulldogs last season. Stapleton, whose mother was an assistant coach for the WNBA's Detroit Shock, has been selected to play in the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star Game next month in San Antonio.

Another recruit, David Larson, out of Oakton High School, won a slam-dunk title at a northern Virginia all-star game, which can be found on YouTube (David Larson Dunk Contest). Larson, a 6-6 forward, led Oakton to its first district title in 38 years this past season.

And most importantly to Burgess, he says all of the recruits come from winning programs.

"Hopefully that enhances their learning curve to the college level," said Burgess. "Now granted all of them look great on paper, but I do think if they're coming from winning programs and successful programs that does help them to adjust a little sooner or earlier at the college level."

Others headed to Bridgewater are: Rashad Moore, a guard who played with Duke's Seth Curry at Charlotte Christian High School in North Carolina, Malcolm Dickson, a 5-11 guard from Bowie H.S. in Maryland, and 6-3 guard Ronnie Thomas from Patrick Henry High School in Virginia.

Other Virginians include: Romie Powell, a 6-9 center from Orange Co., Kyle Brooks, a 6-4 guard from Courtland, Kenneth Waugh out of Wytheville, and locals Dylan Painter from Page Co. and Broadway's Kyle VanOrden.

"We're losing so much firepower, we want to try to be two-deep at each position," added Burgess. "When you have guys that can start on any given night, that's the kind of quality we want to bring in that you can almost throw a dart at the board and say, 'OK, this kid can start.'"

An ODAC regular season title and two wins in the NCAA tournament at home last season certainly helped Kirby Dean and his staff at Eastern Mennonite in the recruiting process.

"Kids are attracted to that," said Dean. "Everybody loves a winner, and you hear that from the very beginning of getting involved in athletics. And, I certainly think that the atmosphere created by those two tournament games was a big factor in some these kids saying yes to Eastern Mennonite."

One of those that said yes to the Royals is Adam Burroughs from Northside High School in Roanoke.

"In the past, we've not had any luck recruiting in Roanoke," said Dean. "All of those kids have either gone to Roanoke or Hampden-Sydney, and I think the year that we had probably made us a little more appealing to him."

Burroughs, a 6-0 guard, was named all-state, all-region and all-district with the Vikings. Handley graduate Vance Washington is also headed to EMU, a year after trying to walk on at Old Dominion of the CAA. Washington was the Northwestern District Player of the Year in 2009, while earning all-state honors and averaging 16 ppg.

R.J. Sims is a 6-4 wing out of Friendly High School in Maryland, and Dean says he reminds him a lot of current EMU standout D.J. Hinson.

"He looks like him, acts like him and kind of plays like him, so if he can turn out like that, we'll feel pretty good about it."

In all, eight are headed to EMU in the fall. The five others include: Joe Fears, a 6-4 forward from Freedom (AAA) in Woodbridge, Devon McIver, a 6-2 guard from Freedom as well, Dajon Daniel, a 6-2 wing from Mountain View H.S. (AAA), Temilade Shonibare, a 5-10 guard who Dean says is as quick with the ball as any player he's had, and Randell Smith, a 6-3 wing from Garfield.

And Dean says all provide important depth for his four returning starters.

"We want to play faster," said Dean. "I know that shocks people, but what people don't understand is, we still haven't played the pace I want to play because we haven't had the depth we've needed to play at that level to sustain it. Now, we're going to be at least two-deep all the way across the board and in some spots three-deep. I think they are going to help right away from day one. I think it's going to be exciting and fun to watch."


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