Big Day For The Billikens!

This is a day a lot of Saint Louis University basketball fans have been waiting many months for. The early signing period begins today with the Billikens expected to sign five players who have committed to coach Rick Majerus, a recruiting class that figures to take SLU to new heights under its new coach.


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Majerus, the former Utah coach, was named the Billikens' coach on April 30 and had to work quickly to add players for the 2007-08 team, fill out his coaching staff with two more assistants and then also try to make up ground on recruiting the Class of 2008.

The end result, it appears, is a strong group of five players that will serve as the backbone of the coach's first few years in St. Louis.

"The whole thing about Saint Louis's recruiting class, you have to evaluate the impact they are going to have on the future," Recruiting Director Dave Telep said on Wednesday morning. "This class is going to help the Billikens significantly in the A-10. You can't measure this class only on the rankings of the players. You have to talk about them in relation to their league. Xavier and Saint Louis come out looking really good in the league."

The Billikens are expected to sign Whitefish Bay (Wis.) Dominican High point guard Kwamain Mitchell, 7-foot center Brett Thompson from Vienna, Ill., 6-11 power forward Willie Reed from Milestone Christian Academy in Kansas City, 6-4 shooting guard Femi John from McCluer North High in suburban St. Louis and North Eugene, Ore., forward Brian Conklin.

"It's a great recruiting class," Telep said.

SLU's group received "honorable mention" recognition on's list of the Top 25 recruiting classes, which would translate loosely into a top 40 class.

But Telep cautioned that trying to label this group like that does not do this recruiting class enough credit.

(Check out the signing day blog link above for more of Telep's explanation of SLU's situation.)

"What's going on now with Saint Louis, you see Saint Louis obviously adding a lot of talent in this class," Telep said back in August. "You know Rick Majerus has a reputation for developing his guys. You have a foundation class in a league that they can eventually win, and that's pretty much all you can ask for. You have the foundation for what can be a winner in the Atlantic 10 going forward. This is not an overnight deal. It's going to take a little bit of time. But when you bring in a recruiting class of this caliber, you can pretty much knock a year off the process of getting it back."


This is also a big day for the SLU women's basketball team and coach Shimmy Gray-Miller, who is also expected to sign a five-member class that is very similar to the class Majerus put together.

Gray-Miller will add talent and depth to her squad as well and also have basically every position in the lineup covered.

The women's team is expected to sign 5-6 point guard Janisha "Pooh" Gearlds from Bolingbrook (Ill.) High, 5-10 shooting guard Alisha Goodwin from Belleville (Ill.) Althoff High, 6-0 forward Devonna Smith from Kirkwood (Mo.), 6-1 forward India Warfield from Chaminade-Julienne School in Dayton and 6-2 center Kaelin Reid from Taft High School in Cincinnati.

Please check back with later in the day when we will have more stories on these recruiting classes after Majerus and Gray-Miller are able to comment on these players once the letters-of-intent are signed and faxed.

We will also have coverage of tonight's home opener for the Billikens against Detroit, including a photo gallery chronicling the start of the new season.

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