Mt. Lebanon Star Will Sign NLI Tomorrow

Mt. Lebanon's Evan Pierce spent this past weekend in Staten Island on the Wagner campus. Pierce committed to the Northeast Conference school this summer. His official visit with Coach Deane et al. made him even more comfortable with that decision. He will sign a National Letter of Intent tomorrow, the first day of the NLI early signing period.

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Evan Pierce, a 6-foot-3, 175 pound shooting guard, committed to Wagner in August. Coach Mike Deane, who had been in touch with Pierce since April, hosted an unofficial visit to the NEC school this summer and visited Pierce at Mt. Lebanon during the September contact period.

"I think Wagner is the best fit for me," Pierce said. "Coach Deane said that if I continue to work hard, I'll see a lot of playing time next year." He also has family in New York.

    Peirce said that he spends 90 minutes before classes, three days a week, working with Mt. Lebanon's assistant coach improving his conditioning for this season.

"I was at the football game (against Central Connecticut State that Wagner won 32-27)," he said. "Saw my future teammates scrimmage. They looked really good."

"The fan support is great for the team," he said. Wagner plays in the 2,100 seat Spiro Sports Center that opened in 1999.

"I'm very comfortable with Coach Deane's style of play," Evan said. "It's balanced. Coach wants to push the ball when possible along with using set half-court offenses."

Mt. Lebanon made it to the 2009 PIAA State Class AAAA semifinals. "We have everyone back from last season," Pierce said. Evan and three more then-juniors, a sophomore and one freshman saw "major minutes" (PG) for the 24-6 Blue Devils.

Pierce, whose family moved from Indiana after his freshman year, was Mt. Lebanon's leading scorer at about 20 points with four rebounds and two assists. "I averaged 13-14 points as a sophomore," he added.

Pierce is the Blue Devils' shooting guard, unlike many high school players who have to play a different position because that's what their team needs.

Mt. Lebanon has a challenging 2009-10 schedule. In addition to their Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) tough Section 4 foes, the Blue Devils will be playing in three major tournaments (probable opponents):

  • The Pittsburgh Holiday Club Festival at Robert Morris University against Hampton, the PIAA AAA champions, before Christmas.
  • The Junior Orange Bowl at Miami (FL) Dade College against Coral Gables (Miami, Fla.), Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) after Christmas.
  • The renowned Prime Time Shootout against Mountain State (WV) Academy at West Virginia University on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010, and versus Philadelphia's Archbishop Carroll at Villanova University on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010. (Prime Time Shootout website)

Pierce is ranked at no. 278 in Hoop Scoop's preseason the Class of 2010 top 750 players. Sewickley Academy's Tom Droney (Davidson) at 328 is the only other Western Pa. player in Clark Francis's ranking.

This looks like a rebuilding year for Wagner. The Seahawks lost four starters from last season's 16-14 (8-11 NEC) team. This team will have seven new players on the roster, five freshman and two redshirt freshman, along with seven returnees all needing to replace 71% of last year's scoring and 57% rebounding.

Evan Pierce said that he hasn't selected a major. but thinks it will be in the business and/or computer sciences field.

"I played the point at AAU," he added. "I worked on ball handling and driving skills all summer so I can be more of a combo guard this season."

That's with Coach Daryn Freedman's (former Duquesne assistant) Basketball Stars of America (BSA). Evan's 34 points led BSA to this summer's 17-and under AAU Classic bracket title at the AAU National Championship.

Pierce made the Pennsylvania Class AAAA second team as a junior and was named to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Terrific Ten and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's South Fabulous Five.

Iona, Air Force, Buffalo, Vermont and Mount St. Mary's were also in the recruiting hunt.

Mt. Lebanon's season gets underway at the Pine-Richland Tip-Off Tournament in Gibsonia, Pa. on December 11 and 12, 2009. Summit and Fox Chapel are the other teams at this WPIAL event.

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