Head coach Jeff Wilson has announced the names of six individuals who will join the East Stroudsburg University men’s basketball program for the 2011-12 season.
The Warriors’ recruits join a program that has made back-to-back trips to the PSAC Final Four for the first time since going three straight seasons from 1990-92. ESU set the school record for wins with a 24-6 season and went to the NCAA Tournament two years ago, and was 16-12 with a PSAC quarterfinal win at Kutztown last season. The Warriors have made the PSAC Tournament in five of the last six seasons.
Wilson and assistant coach Justin Potts, entering their 10th season at ESU, will add freshmen Kevin Anema, Whis Grant, Lamont Tillery and Matt Tobin, redshirt freshman Muhamadou Kaba and sophomore Zechariah Runkle to a group of nine returning letterwinners.
The returners are led by two junior forwards, All-PSAC East selection Duane Johnson (12.4 ppg) and 2009-10 PSAC East Freshman of the Year Terrance King (10.3 ppg, 54 blocks). Senior guard Russell Graham III is back after missing all but seven games due to injury last season and sophomore guard Will Brown (8.8 ppg) set the school record for three-point percentage (48.0) and the freshman record with 48 three-pointers off the bench.
Two local players, center Kevin Anema (Pocono Mountain West) and forward Lamont Tillery (Pocono Mountain East), are key components of the incoming class after leading their teams to the Mountain Valley Conference championship game last season.
Anema (7-0, 215) was first team All-MVC and helped the Panthers to a 56-54 win in the MVC championship game last February at Koehler Fieldhouse. He averaged 11 points, seven rebounds and more than five blocks per game as a senior and set school records with 127 blocks in a season and 177 in his career. He was also named to the District 11 honorable mention team last season.
Tillery (6-4, 215), a two-time first team All-MVC selection, was a standout basketball and football player for the Cardinals. He averaged 15 points and nine rebounds as a senior and helped Pocono Mountain East to the MVC title as a junior. In football, he set the school record with 735 receiving yards and earned All-Area recognition in both sports.
Two standout guards, Whis Grant (Plymouth Whitemarsh) and Matt Tobin (Hopatcong [N.J.]), round out the Warriors’ freshman class.
Grant (6-0, 175) spent a prep year at St. Thomas More (Conn.) and was a contributor on the school’s National Prep championship team last winter. He also won a championship as a senior at Plymouth Whitemarsh, scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the AAAA state title win over Will Brown’s Penn Wood squad.
Tobin (6-1, 170) set the Sussex County scoring record with 2,350 career points and follows his brother, Mike, to ESU. Matt was a three-time All-County and third team All-State selection as a senior and led his team to two straight North Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) championships, averaging 21 points as a junior and 27 points as a senior. Mike, a 2011 ESU graduate, was the top rebounder and second-leading scorer on the 2010 NCAA Tournament and 2011 PSAC semifinal teams.
Kaba, a 6-2, 180-pound guard from East Orange, N.J., was redshirted last season and is expected to contribute in the Warriors’ rotation this year. He was first team All-Super Essex Conference and All-Area as a senior, averaging 13 points, six rebounds and four assists per game on the school’s North Jersey Section 1 Group 4 championship team. A three-year letterwinner, Kaba graduated seventh in his high school class of 463 students and was the Paul Robeson Award recipient as his school’s top scholar-athlete.
Runkle, a member of the ESU football program as a safety from 2008-10, returns to the basketball floor where he won back-to-back District championships and went to the state semifinals in 2007 and 2008 at Harrisburg High School. The 6-3, 220-pound forward averaged 7 points and 7 rebounds per game and was a two-time All-Mid Penn Conference selection in football as a defensive back. He played in 11 games for the Warriors and head coach Denny Douds over the last three seasons.
ESU opens the 2011-12 season against national semifinalist West Liberty (W.V.) in a tournament at Shippensburg on November 12 after a preseason schedule that includes a closed scrimmage at Lehigh and an exhibition at Rider. Other non-conference games are against Charleston (W.V.), Penn State Schuylkill, St. Thomas Aquinas, Molloy and USP.
The Warriors will take on a schedule that includes 22 games against the PSAC, with crossover games against the western division counting in the conference standings for the first time. The crossover schedule begins November 19 and the PSAC East schedule gets underway on January 11.