The Kent State Golden Flashes are going to look noticeably different come next season due to six new faces joining the roster. Through a mix of transfers, JUCO players and traditional prep signings head coach Rob Senderoff has added six new faces to his 2014 roster.
With three players graduating, and three players who recently announced their transfers, Senderoff went out and assembled a strong 2014 recruiting class with a wide mix of experience levels. Two of the members, Blake Vedder (a transfer from Indiana University of Pennsylvania) and Jimmy Hall (a transfer from Hofstra) were technically already on roster, but had to sit out the 2013-2014 season due to NCAA transfer regulations. The other four members of the class come from the JUCO ranks (2) and the prep ranks (2).
Overall, Senderoff's class is large, not just in numbers, but in actual size. Vedder is a giant 7-foot-4, 235 pound center, who will have one season of eligibility left. The average height of the six incoming players is 6-foot-7, which is an astounding figure for a team losing three power forwards.
Hall, the other transfer, came to the Flashes from Hofstra, and actually has three seasons of eligibility left. He doesn't come without baggage, however. He was kicked out of Hofstra just seven games into his career after he and three other players were arrested on burglary charges. Hall was charged with four felony counts of second degree burglary. The charges were eventually dropped down to just misdemeanors, allowing Hall to continue his playing career.
"Our entire department did a lot of research on Jimmy and his background and his family, and felt like he was deserving of a second chance here at Kent," Senderoff told the Portage County Record-Courier back in August. "We're expecting him to make the most of that opportunity."
Hall had an astounding debut on the court at Hofstra however, averaging 12.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game as a true freshman in that limited sample size. He's an explosive forward who attacks the glass. A fantastic athlete, Hall should provide the Flashes with an immediate impact, and someone the team can pair with junior Chris Ortiz for a formidable frontcourt.
Together with Hall and Vedder, Kent State is also adding a true freshman big in Dallas, Ga. product Raasean Davis. At 6-foot-8, 230 pounds Davis has fantastic size for a prep product. He's an excellent rebounder already, and with some development of his post game could be the anchor of Kent State's frontcourt in the coming years.
Aside from the three bigs, Senderoff also addressed needs at small forward and shooting guard. Small forward was an area where the Flashes needed help from a player who could come in and produce right away. A long list of recent transfers had left the team with an immediate need an no depth at this position.
The solution, Dayton product, and San Jacinto College JUCO prospect Gary Akbar. Originally a 2-star prospect in the 2012 recruiting class, Akbar was committed to Akron at one point, before going the junior college route. After two fantastic seasons in Texas, where he most recently averaged 8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and a shade under two assists per game, he's now once again destined for the MAC.
An athletic swingman, Akbar can also play the two guard position, and has two seasons of eligibility remaining. Senderoff cited Akbar's versatility and college-ready resume as some of his best assets.
"He can play multiple positions, defends multiple positions and has a really strong body that makes him college ready," Senderoff said when Akbar signed during the early signing period in November. "You can post him up and play through him. He fits the mold of a Kent State forward-guys like Darren Goodson, Antonio Gates and Chris Singletary-in that he can make plays for others. I think he'll be able to impact us in a lot of ways."
That's some lofty names to be compared too, but even coming out of high school (highlights) Akbar showed a willingness to attack the basket and a solid jumper. His versatility reminds me of Quincy Diggs, but with a possibly more polished offensive game.
A pair of shooting guards, one from the JUCO ranks, and one from the prep ranks, rounds out the class. Deon Edwin, the JUCO prospect, was able to be added to the roster thanks to recent transfers, and was the lone player to sign his National Letter of Intent today (the other players had already signed or transferred in). A one-time Southern Miss player, the Virgin Islands native left Golden Eagles after his freshman season in which he averaged 1.5 points and 1.5 assists per game.
This past season Edwin, the brother of former Golden Flash Jason Edwin (2003-2005), played for Laramie County Community College (Wyoming) and averaged 21.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3 assists.
"He will be strongest and most physical perimeter player on our roster," Sendeoff raved about Edwin's style of play in press release on Wednesday.
Kent State returns the most depth in its backcourt, with now seniors Derek Jackson, Devereaux Manley and Kris Brewer all back. But Edwin's physical nature should be a fantastic compliment to the Flashes' current guards, and allow him to make an immediate impact. Even with an expected decline in output due to increased competition levels, he could very well develop into the team's leading scorer next season.
The other guard in this class is Rosel Hurley, another big, physical two guard. Hurley, out of Shaker Heights High School (Ohio) is 6-foot-6, 180 pounds, and is the highest rated member of the class, coming in at 2.5 stars on Verbal Commits' composite rankings, and ranked as high as 3 stars by ESPN.
He's a lanky wing, with great athleticism and a flashy finish. He's a bit lean for his frame, but with a college conditioning program aiding him, he could easily add 15 pounds of muscle to his frame which would help his interior game. Of all the players, he truly is the one, outside of Hall, with the best upside.
Overall Senderoff did a fantastic job of going out and addressing immediate needs, while still thinking towards the future. Hall, Edwin and Akbar will make immediate impacts and barring some unforeseen adjustment issues, should instantly boosts Kent State's standings in the MAC pecking order.
With the Flashes coming off their worst season in more than 15 years this is the exact type of recruiting class Senderoff needed to put together. Kent State's improved front court should pay off big once MAC play comes around, and allow the team to compete with the likes of Akron, Ohio and Western Michigan, teams who have sort of bullied the rest of the MAC in the paint in recent seasons.
Recent seasons have been a bit frustrating for the Flashes' faithful, but there's definitely plenty of reasons to be excited for what the future may hold.