United Faith Academy in Charlotte, N.C., wanted to be taken seriously on the basketball court. The school reached out to Shaun Wiseman, Hope Christian's coach with a reputation for nurturing serious players. Wiseman agreed to cease his 45-minute commute to Hope Christian and set up camp at United Faith.
The next step was seeing who would enroll at the school and help get the program kick stared. "When I took the job over here I didn't know who would follow," Wiseman said. When I learned that Kenny Gabriel was transferring and Adam Raye, I figured there was something to build on. Two weeks before school starts Tevin popped his head in the door."
Ken Gabriel, Adam Raye and Tevin Friday transferred in from Hope Christian. Others would come from further away. Jovan Vargiac, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who has stolen a page or two from the Sasha Pavlovic school of shooting and dunking, also enrolled. The Serbian wing is a member of the Class of 2008.
"He's an A-B student," Wiseman said. "He's laughing at our mathematics; he's laughing at our science. The only thing he needs extra studying in now is English. I've talked to a few Colonial and Southern Conference Schools. I definitely think he can fit at that level."
With Raye, a proven commodity at the point, and Friday a stat stuffing sophomore at the small forward, Gabriel and Vargiac should receive plenty of chances to score. For Gabriel, the September evaluation period is key. Numerous high-major programs have committed to visiting him the next few weeks. Gabriel's play with them in the gym will determine his eventual college level. "He's well aware of that and that's why a lot of mid-majors are still hanging around. You hate to say they want to see him fail but they're waiting to see if more high-majors offer the next few weeks," Wiseman said. "South Florida has already offered and he goes on an official visit there in a few weeks."
Gabriel the combo forward, Raye the presence at the point and Vargiac the scorer, form the identity of this new squad. "We've got Kenny, Jovan and Adam; those three seniors are going to lead our team," Wiseman said. "Adam's going to run our show and execute our system."
Vargiac isn't the lone foreign prospect on the roster. Daimir Zdunic, a 6-9 center out of Croatia could see time. A 2009 prospect, Zdunic has to improve in a lot of areas in order to be recruited but he's got one advantage: he's big and has a good attitude.
Wiseman is waiting to see if another foreign big man arrives on campus in the near future but for the most part the pieces for his inaugural team are in place.