OSU inks one of Prairie State's top seniors

ON THE CUSP of news five hoops players would not return to OSU, the Beavers today announced the signing of Michael Stovall, a 6-5, 200-pound shooting guard out of Marshall High in Chicago. Stovall joins incoming guard Calvin Haynes and forward Omari Johnson, placing the Beavs in "the midst of our best recruiting class," says Oregon State coach Jay John, as in, the Beavs might not be done just yet.

The Beavs had a tough go of it this past season, compiling an 11-21 record that included a 3-15 mark in the Pac-10 and a 9th place finish. John, however, says the signs of real progress are unmistakeable in Corvallis with today's signing of Stovall a clear example of that.

Stovall was one of the top seniors in the state of Illinois this recruiting cycle, said John.

"Michael is one of the best athletes that we've ever recruited," John said. "He's one of those rare guys that can glide down the floor and easily swoop in and dunk the basketball. He's got an all-around game as a player. He shoots the ball well, he penetrates well, he can pull up and hit a jumper, he's good around the rim. Anybody that understands basketball in Chicago knows that the Chicago Public Red-West League is always among the best."

John didn't stop there, saying Beaver recruiting efforts are considerably different than when he first arrived in Corvallis.

"When people see us play next year, they're going to be impressed by our combination of ability and speed. We're in the midst of a makeover. I've said all along to anybody that listens, when we first arrived here the caliber of freshman we could recruit was not good enough. The guys we're getting now, we could not have successfully recruited them back then. With what we've been able to do over the past five years, we've been able to open some doors. There is continued interest in our program, and Michael's addition is more evidence of that. We are in the midst of our best recruiting class."

Stovall led Marshall in scoring with 20 points per game, averaging eight rebounds and four assists. Stovall was generally considered one of the top 10 seniors in the state this season.

"I liked the coaching staff and the players at Oregon State and I felt like I fit right in with everybody," Stovall said. "I had a lot of choices but I didn't want to stay home. I wanted to try someplace new and far away. I had never been to Oregon before my visit and it's beautiful out there.

"I feel like I can do a lot of things for Oregon State. My type of game is up-and-down, push the ball up the floor, get my teammates the ball. I feel like I can make other players better, and I'll get a lot better at OSU."

During the letter-of-intent period last November, the Beavers announced the signings of Haynes and Johnson, as well as forward/center Ilija Milutinovic out of Belgrade, Serbia. It appears, however, that Milutinovic will not qualify OSU said today, giving John and the Beavers two open scholarships, so there may be another announcement during this signing period.

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