Eastern Michigan University head coach Rob Murphy now has six new players to take under his wing for the upcoming 2014-15 season, as the team announced Thursday. EMU will be adding two freshmen, two graduate student-athletes and two transfer student-athletes to its roster this fall.
Newcomers Ethan Alvano (Corona, Calif.-Corona) and Tim Bond (Baltimore, Md.-City College) are freshmen. Jerome Hunter (Buffalo, N.Y.-Queen City Prep (Alabama A&M)) and Anali Okoloji (Brooklyn, N.Y.-Impact Academy (George Mason)) are graduate student-athletes. Finally, Brandon Nazione (Howell, Mich.-Howell (Des Moines Area C.C.)) and Mike Samuels (Bushkill, Pa.-East Stroudburg North (Indiana State)) are transfers who will both have two years of eligibility remaining at EMU. Let’s get to know these players a little better.
Alvano is a California native who, as a senior, led his high school to its first 20-win season since 2005-06. During that time, he averaged 23.2 points, 5.8 assists, 3.9 steals and 3.7 rebounds per game. He was named the Big VIII Co-MVP for his efforts and also earned all-league honors. Alvano was selected to the Southern Section Second Team while also being named the county’s MVP. Over the course of his high-school career, he earned three all-tournament selections, three all-tournament team selections and was named all-league in three of his four years as a varsity athlete
As a senior in high school, Bond, a native of Baltimore, led his team to a perfect 27-0 record. That feat was enough to win the Maryland Class 3A State Championship. During that successful run, Bond averaged 12 points, seven rebounds, six assists, six steals and three blocks per game. He was also named to the All-Metro First Team as a senior.
Hunter previously spent four years at Alabama A&M University. He appeared in 85 career games, starting 65 of them. Hunter averaged 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in three seasons. He also recorded 49 blocked shots during that time. At 6-feet-8-inches tall, Hunter grabbed double-digit rebounds three times and scored 10 or more points five times. On Nov. 20, 2010, he recorded a double-double by scoring a career-high 14 points and a career-high 14 rebounds versus Tuskegee.
On the academic side of things, Hunter was an honor roll student and a member of the dean’s list at A&M. He was named to the All-Academic First Team in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Prior to his time spent at Alabama A&M, Hunter averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds per game as a senior at Queen City Preparatory. ESPN.com had him ranked as the 87th-best player in the nation coming out of high school.
Okoloji played two seasons of college basketball at George Mason before transferring to Eastern. He played in a total of 50 games at GMU, starting 18 of them. During that time, he averaged 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Before transferring to GMU, Okoloji played at Seton Hall. He appeared in 16 games at Seton Hall, averaging 1.9 points and one rebound per game. The 6-foot-8-inch forward played a year of prep basketball in Florida at Impact Basketball Academy. There, he averaged 25 points, 11 rebounds and six assists per game. He earned first-team all-state honors among independent schools in Florida. ESPN.com had him ranked as the 75th-best forward in the class of 2009.
Before transferring to Eastern, Nazione was selected as an NJCAA Second-Team All-American following his sophomore campaign at Des Moines Area Community College. He led DMACC to a 29-7 overall record, averaging 16.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. His team managed to capture the NJCAA Region XI title and advanced to the NJCAA Division II National Championship for the first time since 2007.
As a senior in high school, Nazione averaged 19 points and 13 rebounds while earning Class A All-State honorable mention accolades. His achievements don’t stop there. He was selected to the Lansing State Journal’s all-state team. He was a First-Team All-Region selection and a First-Team All-State selection, both by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan. Last but not least, Nazione was selected as the Kensington Lakes Athletic Association’s Player of the Year.
Samuels comes to Ypsilanti, Mich. as a transfer from Indiana State. While at ISU, he sat out the past two seasons due to injury. Before transferring to ISU, however, he played for two years at Wabash Valley College. In 2011-12, Samuels’ team finished with a 25-9 overall record while finishing in eighth place in the National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament. In 26 games, Samuels averaged 4.8 points and 3.4 rebounds. He concluded the season with 19 blocked shots, eight assists and three steals.
Eastern Michigan is scheduled to start the season on Friday, Nov. 14 at the Convocation Center. The team’s opponent will be Saint Francis University (Ill.), a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) affiliated team.