Two large parts of the restocking in Ruston are the players who sat out in 2008 and the players who just signed in the spring. Fans noticed last season all of the tall guys sitting in street clothes at the end of the Bulldog bench. Magnum Rolle, a 6'11" LSU transfer and Kenny Cooper, a 6'10" Oklahoma State transfer, are both big enough guys to stand out anywhere, even next to other Division 1 basketball players. Jamel White, a transfer from Nebraska, and Olu Ashaolu, a highly touted high school player from Toronto, joined Rolle and Cooper on the sidelines. White is a 6'2" guard and Ashalou is a 6'7" wing with great athleticism. Late in the season, Shawn Oliverson also found himself watching from the sidelines. Oliverson, a 6'11" Cornell transfer, recently returned from his two year LDS church mission.
Oliverson and Cooper are not only tall, but they are both very strong. During spring workouts, both players bench pressed 185 pounds more than any of their teammates. Cooper had 28 reps on the bench and Oliverson, who also had the second best vertical jump on the team at an eye-popping 34 inches, had 23 reps. Not only is it unfair that a 6'11" guy can jump that high, it is also scary to think about someone trying to block his shot when he rises high above the rim for a dunk. Not too many people are going to be willing to get in his way.
Signing this spring were two junior college players and two high school players. Jamel Guyton is a long range bomber from Odessa College and David Jackson is an athletic forward from Mesa Community College. Guyton, a 6'2" guard, will help spread the defense with his three-point shooting. Jackson played his freshman year at Idaho before transferring to Mesa. The 6'8" forward is quick enough to guard wing players and he is strong enough to guard the post.
Arrez Henderson, from Holmes County High School in Covington, KY is a 6'1" guard who made a name for himself on defense. Nicknamed "The Eraser", Henderson shut down opponents in the Kentucky State Playoffs. Henderson is expected to play point guard at Tech, but his strong frame and quickness allows him to score in the lane against most guards.
Brandon Gibson is a 6'6" player from Marianna, FL. Gibson played power forward in high school, but will play both shooting guard and small forward in Ruston. Both Henderson and Gibson's high school mascots are the Bulldogs and both will fit in nicely for the Tech Bulldogs. Gibson is an all around player and both freshmen's versatility will come in handy for Coach Rupp.
There are a lot of new faces for the Dunkin Dawgs, but there will be some familiar faces coming back. Kyle Gibson is the most noticeable player from last season, having led the team in scoring as a sophomore. The 6'4" guard had to play power forward on a short handed squad, but will play both wing positions this year. Gibson, White, and Ashaolu will likely provide plenty of scoring this year for the Bulldogs. Size will not be problem anymore either, not with Cooper, Oliverson, and Rolle all roaming the paint. Guyton will add outside shooting to compliment Kyle Gibson, and Jackson, Brandon Gibson, and Henderson will add even more athleticism to a very athletic roster.
It is yet to be determined which other players will be back and if any other recruits are yet to be signed. Tech lacked size and scoring last season, and based on the newcomers alone, they have plenty of both this time around. The rest of the country is starting to take notice and Tech fans will see for themselves soon enough.