Four Signees Don't Mean Full Bag For Hoops

WVU's main goal in the early signing period was to simply increase the amount of talent on the roster at every position. The Mountaineer staff achieved that goal, as they were able to sign a solid four recruit class on which to build the foundation of the program.

The Mountaineer class includes Tyler Relph, Jerrah Young, Brad Byerson and Franklin Young. All four figure to contend for immediate playing time when the arrive at WVU next fall.

Under NCAA rules Coach John Beilein and his staff can sign one more recruit this spring to add to next year's squad. The following is a list of 2003 recruits WVU is currently involved with or previously has expressed interest in:

Herbert Jones - (6-7 195) Would probably remind most WVU fans of Tyrone Sally. Jones is a long WF who is a sophomore at Allegany CC. Jones is originally from Petersburg (VA), so the WVU staff is very familiar with his game. Several Big East and A10 programs are among the schools looking at Jones. Jones is an excellent athlete who is very active, runs the floor well, with good to outstanding hops. Needs to improve the consistency on his jumper but is a very good prospect. One to watch.

Paulius Joneliunas - (6-10 240) Lithuanian import playing at of Roanoke Catholic High School (VA). Reportedly an excellent offensive player with good overall skills. WVU has tried to get involved with Joneliunas, but many observers feel he will eventually sign with Dave Odom and South Carolina. Many may remember Odom has a good reputation with other Lithuanian and foreign players.

Justin Jonus - (6-7 200) Back to the future. Many WVU fans are already familiar with this Douglas High School (AL) star. WVU and Jonus were very involved during the fall semester recruiting period. WVU reportedly backed off after WF/SG target Frank Young gave a verbal commitment. However, with the departure of Tobias Seldon and Jay Hewitt, WVU may start to look at Jonus once again. The question becomes, is it too late? Jonus is coached by his father at Douglas, and there were reportedly some hurt feelings when WVU backed off. Watch for Jonus to be a hot prospect in the spring, just maybe not for WVU. One to watch.

Jeff Varem - (6-6 235) Nigerian import playing at Vincennes (IN). Rated as one of the Top 5 WF in junior college basketball. Smart, strong. explosive leaper that doesn't make many mistakes. Handles the ball well and plays hard at both ends of the court. Needs consistency on his perimeter game. Averages 16 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists per game for perennial power Vincennes. WVU is battling Indiana, Cincinnati, UNLV, Colorado, Wyoming, Purdue and others.

Parnell Smith - (6-6 215) WVU was heavily involved with this Indianapolis (IN) Pike High School star. Is very effective using either hand and will not hesitate to mix it up inside. Is a very good team player and looks to get everyone involved. Runs well and is an aggressive rebounder. Would fit well into the Beilein system. Needs to improve on his perimeter game. Several MAC and A10 programs are in the mix for Smith.

Kerry Gibson – (7-1 205) WVU is heavily involved with this Jefferson (WI) High School star. Gibson is a very good athlete for a big man. Runs well and can shoot from anywhere on the court. Kerry was a 1st team All-Conference punter and kicker for the Jefferson football team. Jefferson is a small town in southeast Wisconsin between Milwaukee and Madison. Both Marquette and Wisconsin had Kerry in on visits and their level of involvement is still up in the air. Gibson's older brother is a Division 1 football player at Central Michigan and his younger sister is about 6-4 and is the star of the girls basketball team, averaging over 24 PPG. Gibson is averaging around 22 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks per game this season. He was mainly a jumpshooter last season (way too many 3-pt attempts as a source put it) but this season is playing inside more. Just needs to fill out and gain strength, as you could probably tell from his listed weight of 205. WVU noticed Gibson at the NIKE Camp in Indianapolis and really liked what they saw and have stayed on him ever since. Great potential. If he could redshirt a season ..... WVU may have found a true diamond in the rough. Keep your eyes on this one.

Ryan Lambert - (6-7 220) Lambert is a playing at Hargrave Military this season after transferring from a high school in Maryland. Known as a very physical player, strong rebounder with mainly a defense-oriented mindset. Primarily scores inside but has expanded his offensive repertoire to include a more consistent jumper. Ryan's decision to attend Hargrave has elevated his recruitment. His decision to wait until the spring signing period will make Lambert even more in demand. Has different levels of interest from West Virginia, Syracuse, South Alabama, George Washington, Richmond, Georgia Tech, South Alabama, St. Louis, and others.

Bababcar Thiam - (6-7 230) Thiam is a very underrated player from Washington, D.C. Springarn High School. Thiam is a very quick, physical presence that plays with a lot of energy and passes well for a big guy. Could easily add 20-25 pounds to his frame. He has reliable hands and can score in a variety of ways. Mainly being looked at by several ACC, Big East and A10 schools.

Gaston Molida - (6-6 240) Molida is an outstanding rebounder despite being an undersized power forward. Plays hard and uses good strength to grab lots of rebounds and block a surprising number of shots. Currently, Gaston is more of a defensive force. Several ACC, Big East, A10 programs are evaluating.

Donte Minter - (6-8 225) Minter is a 5th year prep who signed with Applachian State last season and is playing for Fork Union this year. Minter is originally from Mt. Ulla, North Carolina and lead his West Rowan team to a state title and 30-0 record. Scored 29 points in the state championship game despite a fractured wrist. A lefty that is an explosive offensive threat and will only get better. Not a great rebounder but will battle and play hard every time. Could Minter trade one Mountaineer team for another?

Torre Johnson - (6-5 205) WVU expressed some early interest in Johnson and may go back this spring. Johnson is a tremendous athlete. Runs extremely well and is a strong finisher around the rim. Plays much, much bigger than his height and often makes jaw-dropping blocks. Needs to improve his ball-handling and jump shot. Is a very unselfish player that blends well with the other members of the team. Plays at Milwaukee (WI) Juneau High School. Made a wise decision not to sign early and will be a hot recruit this spring.

Arnaud Dahi - (6-7 210) This Ivory Coast import made quite an name for himself this past summer. Is a very versatile player that can hit the 3-pointer as well as go to the rack. Very quick, with a good offensive game. Likes to take his man off the dribble and slash to the basket. Always plays hard and is a good defender. Oozes potential and is very coachable. Many big-time programs are in the chase. Will probably be one of the top 10 recruits this spring.

Carl Elliott - (6-2 190) Signed with George Washington last year but failed to qualify. Spending this year at Worcester (MA) Academy but is originally from New York. Is a very physical guard who has to improve the consistency of his long-range shooting. Good skills to go along with a good attitude. Pitt, Providence and several A10 schools are involved at different levels of interest.

Florentino Valencia - (6-5 220) A tough, physical swingman from the Windy City. Has an all-around solid game. Good medium to long jumper. Is more of a slasher that finishes strong to the basket. Loves contact. Can run with anybody on the court. Grades may be somewhat of a question mark. Good potential.

Kelvin Davis - (6-4 190) This Waterbury (CT) swingman is an offensive machine. Great jump shooter that can run well. Will need to improve on his ball handling and passing skills but has a lot of potential. WVU was heavily involved during the early signing period and may take another look. Averaged 18 points, nine rebounds, six assists and 5 steals per games as a junior.

Oluwafemi "Femi" Ibikunle - (6-9 250) An absolute physical specimen. This Nigerian import has tremendous potential. Is a great athlete for any size and will only get better. Still somewhat raw offensively but has all the tools to work with. Prepping a year at New Hampton (NH) Academy. WVU is battling all of the top programs for a visit. Louisville, Cincinnati, UCONN, Memphis, Iowa, Virginia, Richmond, UNC, many more. Definitely on the top of the wish list.

Class of 2004 Targets

It's never too early to take a look at the junior class and WVU has shown definite early interest in the following two (2) players:

Aaron Agnew - (6-10 350) This man-child is playing not too far from Morgantown in Bellaire (OH). Michigan State, Cincinnati, Ohio State, Michigan, Pitt and many others are already taking a look. Will get serious looks based on size alone.

Robinson Louisme - (6-8 215) An emerging star in the Class of 2004 from Ft. Myers (FL). WVU will fight Miami, Florida State, South Florida. Multi-skilled bigman. Will be a Top 75 recruit next year.

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