PAINESVILLE, OHIO – The Lake Erie College men's basketball team signed four players to letters of intent during the spring signing period, bringing its total to five for the 2009-10 recruiting season.
All-Ohio guard Riley Thomas (Cardington, Ohio/Cardington-Lincoln) signed with the team during the fall early signing period.
The four newest members of the Storm are guards Tom Parker (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) and Justin Roth (Parma, Ohio/Parma), post Richard Austin (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius) and forward Emilio Parks (Ashtabula, Ohio/Lakeside).
“The men's basketball program is very excited about the talent and depth of the incoming class,” said head coach Cliff Hunt, who will be entering his sixth season at the helm in 2010-11. “All of the new members of the program were the best players and/or leaders of extremely successful, winning programs. We believe this group is a great fit for our team and the College, both athletically and academically, and will be instrumental to our success in the GLIAC.”
Parker and Roth were both first-team all-district selections and received All-Ohio Special Mention along with Parks.
Parker averaged 10 points and over four assists per game as a senior for the district-champion Wildcats. The 6-foot combo guard was also the team's top perimeter defender, earning St. Ignatius' “Defensive Player of the Year” award after averaging 3.2 steals per game.
“Coming from one of the top high school programs in the state, Tom is consequently much closer to game-ready than most high school players,” said Hunt. “He is a lock-down defender who can play either guard position and should thrive in our approach to the game. Being named to the all-district first-team and special mention all-state despite averaging just 10 points a game is a testament to his overall game and ability.”
The 6-foot-3 Roth finished his high school career as the all-time leading scorer at Parma with over 1,700 points. He averaged 25 points per game this season and was named first-team all-district and All-Northeast Ohio Conference as well as being named the Redmen's most valuable player. The All-Ohio pick led the team to a 19-4 record as a senior, the best record in the school's history.
“Justin is an explosive scorer and good athlete with great three-point shooting range,” Hunt said. “His ability to stretch the defense, along with good quickness with the ball, makes him a tough cover and a great addition to our program.”
The second St. Ignatius signee is Austin, a 6-foot-6 post who averaged over nine points and seven rebounds per game for the Wildcats last season. Awarded the team's “Coaches Cup” and named a Greater Cleveland Basketball Coaches Association (GCBCA) All-Star, the Lake Erie coaching staff feel he has tremendous upside and will be a great fit for the program on the low blocks.
“We became interested in Richard late in the recruiting game and the more we saw him, the more we liked him,” said Hunt. “Like Tom Parker, he has played against the best players in the state at St. Ignatius – and it was no accident that he had his best games against the best teams on their schedule - and has an outstanding fundamental understanding of the game.”
Like Roth at Parma, Parks leaves Lakeside as its all-time leading scorer after averaging 23.7 points per game in leading the Dragons to a school-record 18 wins and a district semifinal appearance. The 1,000 career point scorer was named both team and conference most valuable player and averaged 14.5 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game this past season. At 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, Parks can play both inside and out, adding versatility to the Storm's offensive attack.
“Emilio brings a unique ability to be an inside force in a game and, at the same time, play effectively on the perimeter with guard skills,” Hunt said. “He's an outside threat from three-point range and can handle the ball and pass on the perimeter. We think he is a natural '3' or '4' who can go inside and get rebounds and block shots or go outside and stretch the defense. His skills and team-first attitude fit perfectly in our program's style of play and approach.”
Lake Erie, which has played the past two seasons as an NCAA Division II independent after making the transition from Division III, will become an active member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) in July. Last season, the Storm posted an 11-16 record against a schedule that featured six ranked teams and seven NCAA Tournament participants.