Tulane Men's Basketball Adds Four Signee's

Head men's basketball coach Shawn Finney announced on Wednesday that Tulane University has signed four high school basketball players to National Letters of Intent during the first day of the early signing period.

Entering his fourth year as the head coach of the Green Wave, Finney and his staff will add three 6-8 players and a 6-5 shooter to the lineup for the 2004-05 season. Tulane has three senior scholarship players, 6-10 center George Brown, 7-0 forward Ivan Pjevcevic and 6-5 guard Wayne Tinsley.

2004-05 Tulane Men's Basketball Signees:
David Gomez, F/C 6-8 235, Baton Rouge, La./ Episcopal; Robinson Louisme, F/C 6-8 262, Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers; Donnie Stith F 6-8 215 Virginia Beach, Va./Salem; Matt Wheaton G/F 6-5 190 Houston, Texas/Mayde Creek.

"We addressed a lot of our program's needs by adding excellent size inside and an athletic wing; a player who can go back and forth between the four and the three [Stith]," Finney said. "It is a very solid class which will bring size and more shooting ability to our roster. Next year it will be exciting to have nine freshmen and sophomores forming the core of this program."

Gomez continues Finney's trend of recruiting Louisiana standouts. The 6-8 Baton Rouge product was an all-state selection as a junior, while leading coach Chris Beckman's Episcopal High squad to a 30-6 record. The Most Valuable Player in his district, Gomez also earned all-metro honors from the Baton Rouge Advocate while averaging 25.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. He twice scored more than 50 points in games. Gomez will be the fourth local player on the Wave roster and the seventh to play for Finney.

"David is a great get for us; he is excellent academically and an excellent basketball player," Finney said. "At 6-8, he is very mobile and runs the floor well. We are very fortunate to have him coming in and I am really looking forward to coaching him."

"He is a player with tremendous upside," Beckman said. "He is a big and very skilled post player who can also play on the perimeter. He can shoot the three and has become very athletic with good strength. When he plays hard, he is one of the best in the country."

Another big man who has signed with the Wave is 6-8, 262-pound Robinson Louisme (pronounced loo-IZ-mee), who has been compared with former University of Florida and current Miami Heat big man Udonis Haslem. Louisme averaged 12.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots per game for Coach Ed O'Brien. A second team all-state selection, Louisme led Fort Myers High to the state semifinals in Class 5A, the second- largest classification in Florida.

"Robinson has great hands and great body control and a giant wingspan (7-3) which makes him play even bigger than he is," Finney said. "We need someone like him with bulk and skill that can really knock people around in the paint. He has a major upside."

"He is very skilled for a big man with good feet and great hands," O'Brien said. "He can also play outside, but his forte is in the paint. He is a great competitor who has been part of a winning program and will bring a lot of intangibles. I think he will be a heck of a college player."

Another 6-8 athlete who will join the Green Wave is Donnie Stith, from Virginia Beach, Va. As a junior, Stith averaged 13 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 3.5 assists per game for Coach Bill Cochran. A defensive standout, he led Salem High School to the district championship, covering the opponent's top player night-in and night-out. He earned Beach District Defensive Player of the Year honors.

"Donnie is a very versatile big man," Finney said. "He runs the floor and handles the ball like a guard and he is an excellent three-point shooter. He will be one of the most exciting athletes we have had here in a couple of years."

"He is a very athletic 3/4 man, very vertical and athletic, very quick," Cochran said. "He handles the ball well for his size and moves extremely well without the ball. I am looking for him to assert himself more this year and we expect him to have a break out year."

Matt Wheaton is another versatile defensive player with excellent scoring ability as evidenced by his 18 points per game as a junior for Mayde Creek High School in Houston, Texas. In his third year with the varsity, Wheaton earned first team all-district honors while leading his squad to a fourth-place finish. A co-captain, the 6-5, 190-pounder helped Coach O'Jay Heil's team to its first win at the Katy (Texas) Tournament last season.

"Matt is a wing player that will play the two and the three for us next year," Finney said. "He shoots the ball well and is very aggressive on both ends of the floor. He will be another athlete that will fit in very well in our system."

"Matt will be a real key for us this year [as a senior] because he will play at the head of the circle on the fast break; he will have to make the decisions on what to do with the ball," Heil said. "He is also our best defensive player, big enough to guard the post and quick enough to play on the outside. He is a really smart student with a high gpa and he is also very intelligent on the basketball court. Tulane will be impressed with his ability to compete."

Tulane opened its 2003-04 season with an 80-66 exhibition victory over Vasda on Tuesday night. The Green Wave returns to action next Wednesday, hosting Global Sports at 7 p.m. in Fogelman Arena. The regular season tips off on Tuesday, Nov. 25 as the Wave hosts in-state rival Southern University following the women's basketball home-opener against Oregon State at 6 p.m. Single-game and season tickets are still available by calling 504-861-WAVE.

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