VandyMania: Coach, congratulations on your latest signees... I think most of our readers are already pretty familiar with them, so we won't ask you to go through each guy in your signing class individually. But looking at the class as a whole, can you talk about what you expect this group of five will bring to your team, when compared to what you have coming back already?
Coach Kevin Stallings: The first thing I think they will do is provide some quality depth. We have guys returning that have started at every position, so I would fully anticipate that the veterans will have the advantage when we go into practice. But we're certainly hopeful that these guys will come in and help our team, provide us with quality depth, and maybe even in some cases will compete and vie for starting positions. The key thing for us with this class was to get our next nucleus of guys that in a few years will become the focal point and nucleus class of our basketball team.
VandyMania: The press release always comes out and says, "We're really excited about..." so-and-so signing... but it seems like you've got to be really, really excited about some of the athleticism you're getting, and also to be bringing in a Top 30 or 40 big man in the late signing period... that's just almost unheard of.
Coach Kevin Stallings: You're right, it is. This year was a very down year for post players, both in terms of the number and in terms of quality. For us to be able to pull two in a spring period we feel like will both potentially impact our program, was really a great thing as far as we were concerned. So, yes, we felt like we addressed a lot of needs. We certainly feel like it's a class that possesses a lot of athleticism. There's also a high level of skill in the class, we think. There's kind of a player at every position. We feel good about it. Now, the truth of the matter is, in most cases, not every guy in a recruiting class works out-- that's just kind of inevitably how it happens. But I think the odds are with these guys. If they're good workers and want to improve and contribute to a good team, then I think they can have very good careers.
VandyMania: I read where both of these guys who signed in the late period [Davis Nwankwo and Alan Metcalfe] came in for their visit on the same day, and you ended up signing them both. You sort of feel like if you can get them on campus for a visit, you've got a good shot with them, don't you?
Coach Kevin Stallings: Well, we've had a high batting average, if you will, of guys that we've gotten to campus, and the percentage of those we've gotten to campus, we've been able to get to sign with us. As we look back, there are a few that we haven't gotten, and a few that were really good. But when we get them here, we have a great percentage of success. Now obviously our objective is just to bring in the highest caliber of both student and player that we can find. We keep trying to increase the level of player that we're trying to get in here.
VandyMania: I know you're already way down the road toward targeting some players for next year's recruiting... and we know you can't talk about any, but would you be willing to talk about what positions you're especially looking at for the class of 2005?
Coach Kevin Stallings: I think we definitely need a power forward type, a 4-man. Dawid [Przybyszewski] will be graduating. You know, I think if you look at the positions we will be losing in this year's senior class, that's what we'll be looking for. Dawid's a 4, Corey Smith is a 3, and Jason Holwerda is a 2. We would like that power forward type of skilled guy that could go out and give us some things on the perimeter. Because Corey looks to play a lot of minutes this year, and Jason has played a lot of minutes since he's been here. Jason's been kind of a 1-2-3 guy, he's played all three. If we could find a wing, and another guy who had some versatility to him and could play multiple positions, and then maybe that skilled forward type that I'm talking about, that's what we'd be looking for.
VandyMania: Would you take a ready-made 5 if you could find one?
Coach Kevin Stallings: We would take anybody that was good enough... but in terms of what we lose... why, do you have one in mind?
VandyMania: No, just wondering! But it seems like with the offense you ran last year, maybe having that big center is not quite as important as it might have been in years past. True?
Coach Kevin Stallings: Well, I think that guy is a critical part of our offense, but hopefully we've got some guys that are developing and are going to be good at it. But if you look at our post players for next year, it's going to be difficult for the young guys to come in and beat out Dawid and Julian [Terrell] and Ted [Skuchas]. They've been here for a couple of years and have experience. But hopefully they can come in and make an impact on our team. We just feel good about the guys we have and the guys we've attracted. Our goals are just maybe to try to replace those guys who are leaving and continue to try to attract a higher level of player.
VandyMania: Looking ahead to next season... last year you talked many times about how the road to success was paved in the spring and summer by the example that the seniors set and the hard work they put in in the spring and summer. Have you begun seeing that same kind of commitment and determination yet this spring?
Coach Kevin Stallings: I've certainly seen some of it. Our spring was a lot shorter this year, thank goodness, because we played a lot longer. We've just had a lot less time this spring than we did a year ago. That's what we would hope for every spring! But I think Corey and Jason and Dawid will all do the best they can to provide leadership for this team. Just by their nature Jason and Dawid are great leaders by example... and I think Corey is sort of transitioning to that. Corey is the most vocal of those three, so his value could be in being a leader in a vocal way. So hopefully all three of those guys will do it within their own personalities, but be effective nonetheless. I think they will do that, and I know they've worked hard this spring.