SLU Set To Sign Three This Week

A year ago at this time, Saint Louis University basketball coach Rick Majerus was set to sign a five-member recruiting class that ranked as the second best in the Atlantic 10 Conference and among the top 40 classes nationally.

That was an impressive class even better the Billikens added talented guards Kyle Cassity and Ruben Cotto the following spring, to bring the total of recruits who would serve as the future of Saint Louis U. hoops to seven.

This week, Majerus will sign his second recruiting class at SLU, but this group will not receive the same fanfare as the recruiting haul from a year ago.

Instead, the three-member recruiting class of forwards Jonathan Smith and Cory Remekun and guard Christian Salecich serves to strengthen and improve upon the Saint Louis U. roster as the team tries to move on from the Kevin Lisch and Tommie Liddell era of Billiken basketball.

The 6-foot-7 Smith and 6-8 Remekun will arrive on campus as two of the taller players on the SLU roster, behind Brett Thompson and Willie Reed, and are similar in height to forward Brian Conklin.

For as strong as the previous recruiting class was, the Billikens were able to add four guards and three post players to a team that was severely lacking in height after only 6-6 forward Barry Eberhardt was expected to return.

This class will help even that out a little bit. Thompson, Reed and Conklin give SLU a strong nucleus in the post and Smith and Remekun both bring much-needed height and athleticism to the front line, though both need to get stronger in the future.

Smith was the first player to commit in this class. The Ohio native was originally targeted by former assistant coach Paul Biancardi, but the Billikens recruitment of him didn't slow after Biancardi left to take a job with ESPN.

"Rick Majerus took ownership of Smith's recruitment from mid-July on," said Scout.com's Recruiting Director Dave Telep. "I distinctly remember Coach Majerus heading to West Virginia with the intent of seeing one player: Jon Smith. He fell hard for him and earmarked him early. Why? He's got bounce inside and is a guy they feel can develop based on his athletic attributes and defensive instincts."

Smith has primarily played power forward and center during his high school career, but his athleticism could make him a candidate to play the small forward spot.

Remekun looks like the traditional mid-major power forward. He's long and lanky and in time could develop into a major presence on the on the boards and as a guy who can block and alter shots.

Salecich is a 6-4 shooting guard at the Australian Institute of Sport who describes himself as a shooter and defensive stopper — two attributes that the Billikens will need in the absence of Lisch and Liddell in the 2009-10 season.

When he arrives on campus, he would join a backcourt that includes point guard Kwamain Mitchell and shooting guards Ruben Cotto, Kyle Cassity and Femi John. Cassity and Cotto could both be classified as combo guards — though Cotto is more like an undersized shooting guard — while the bigger, stronger and more athletic John is more of a traditional shooting guard.

Mitchell, Cotto, Cassity and John all bring unique skills to the team, and it looks like Salecich will be able to as well. The questions left to be answered will be how Majerus is able to best utilize his group of guards and who will emerge as the heir apparent to Lisch at shooting guard.

If all seven freshmen return next season, along with junior guard Paul Eckerle, the Billikens' roster would grow to 11 players on scholarship — with Eckerle as the lone upperclassmen in the group. Of course the potential is there for another player or two.

It looks like the Saint Louis coaching staff is still looking to add at least one more player to this recruiting class. One potential target BillikenReport.com has identified is 6-8 Australian forward Cody Ellis, who is a teammate of Salecich's at the Australian Institute of Sport.

Adding a player like Ellis, or another potential power forward, would further strengthen the depth of the rotation of players available in the post for Majerus to mix and match with.


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