Toledo Rockets head men's basketball coach Tod Kowalczyk has found a recipe for success when it comes to recruiting. His 2014 recruiting class consists of three players, four if you include Dre Applewhite who transferred from Mississippi State. Kowalczyk has made his own life easier by creating a great player environment, and winning attitude and culture on the team, and it shows in his ability to bring in talented freshman.
The Rockets key loss this season is Rian Pearson, and Kowalczyk and his staff did everything in their power to not only find a suitable replacement, but also to make it a battle this summer. Two of his three freshmen recruits have the ability to step in and make an immediate impact as starters. Kowalczyk gets it, and so do his players.
Kowalczyk wasted no time looking for depth when he added 2 star prospect Stuckey Mosley from Florida. In fact Mosley committed back in September of 2013. Mosley, who stands 6'3 and weighs 175 pounds, is a terrific shooter who can get red hot at any time. He can put it up from anywhere on the court.
What is most impressive about Mosley is his versatility as a basketball player. While he is a terrific catch and shoot player, he also possesses the ability to put the ball on the wood and drive to the rack. His vision, dribbling, passing, and basketball intangibles are some of the highest in this years high school prospect class.
As the 11th best player in the state of Florida, and the 41st best player at his position the Rockets struck gold when Mosley committed just a week after his visit to Savage. Mosley has great versatility and could make an immediate impact in Toledo in the 2014-2015 season.
Hall was the second member to join the Rockets, behind Mosley. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound small forward was recruited pretty heavily by the Rockets during the fall and winter. Hall averaged 21 points and 9 rebounds per game as a senior in Chicago.
Hall is a junk yard kind of player. He plays hard, he plays fearless, and he's willing to get down and dirty to do whatever needs to be done to put the team before himself.
"Kurt is a hard worker that does all of the little things to help you win a game," Kowalczyk said in a press release announcing the recruiting class. He continued by saying, "he possesses the same type of intensity that Rian Pearson had, and we really feel he can play multiple positions for us."
Hall joins the Rockets as another option to replace Pearson, but should serve as depth coming off of the bench to provide a spark with his hustle style play.
Stokes is a small player at 5-foot-11, 155 pounds, who will be looked upon to be the quarterback of the Rockets offense in the coming seasons. If there is one thing Stokes knows it is a winning culture. Stokes made his decision just days after winning the Class 3A State Championship with his high school basketball team.
Stokes is a tremendous ball handler dealing out dimes over and over again.
"Kamau is a very talented athletic point guard." said Kowalczyk. "I thought it was really important to bring in a point guard who could play alongside and learn from Juice (Brown) and be the heir apparent as the quarterback of our offense. Kamau can really score, is extremely tough mentally, and we are confident that Kamau will have a very good career as a Rocket."
Applewhite transferred to the University of Toledo, and will have three and a half years of eligibility remaining when he steps back on the court. Applewhite started six out of 12 games as a redshirt freshman for Mississippi State. He averaged 5.5 points per game, and 3.9 rebounds per game in a small sample size.Applewhite will bring some size along with his athleticism to a team that should be the preseason favorite to win the MAC.
The Rockets and Kowalczyk have done it again. The loss of three seniors this season should not hurt UT at all in the upcoming 2014-2015 season. Kowalczyk emphasises over and over again the importance of mental toughness, and it shows in each and every one of his players on the court. When you can retain talent for three to four full years at a time it makes the recruiting process that much easier because of the leadership you bring back on a consistent basis.
With the combination of returning talent (four of five starters are back) and this influx of new talent, the Rockets remain one of the teams to beat in the MAC, especially after a disappointing finish to the 2013-2014 season. Adding depth at multiple positions, combined with coach Kowalczyk's ability to keep his players for an entire college tenure only means trouble for the rest of the conference.