Howard Has Outstanding Recruiting Season
By Tyrone McCandies
The Howard University men's basketball coaching staff had two goals when they hit the recruiting trail this past spring: The first was to address the departure of four-year starter, point guard Louis Ford, the second was to add some much needed height in the frontcourt.
From the looks of the 2006-2007 recruiting class, that mission has been accomplished. Coach Gil Jackson's staff has brought in what is arguably the best recruiting class in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. "I thought we addressed out needs," said head coach Gil Jackson. "The incoming players complement the players we have and they will have time to develop because there is some great senior leadership in front of them. It's good when they (freshmen) don't have to play early. They are going to push the seniors to play that much harder. Also, these players will give us a chance to practice against size which will help us during the season," said Coach Jackson, who led the Bison to five victories in the last seven games of the season.
Julius Hearn comes from Chicago, IL and he'll give the Bison a solid guard to fill in the void left by Louis Ford. "We're going to use him as our lead (point) guard," said Coach Jackson. "He's very competitive and he's an excellent defender who can handle the ball." Hearn is an outstanding student as he was named to the Chicago Public School All-Academic team.
Curtis White is a 6-4, 184 pound wingman from Indianapolis, IN. The Indiana All-Star led Pike High School to a 23-4 record while scoring 14 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, and handing out 4 assists per contest. White led Pike to a Regional Championship this past basketball season. "He gives us size on the perimeter," said Jackson. "He comes from an outstanding high school and has a championship mentality. He's a rare basketball player with a high basketball I.Q. He also makes his teammates better because he's an outstanding passer and a great shooter." White played AAU ball with future Ohio State Buckeyes, Greg Odenton and Mike Conley.
Tshimuanga "Kandi" Mukole is from Atlanta GA by way of Belgium and the Congo. The 6-8, 210 pound forward also brings a championship mentality to the program. While leading Greater Atlanta Adventist Academy to its second straight Georgia Christian State Championship, he averaged 26 points, 16 rebounds, and 5.5 blocks a game. As a junior, Mukole averaged 18 points, 14.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocked shots per game.
Jackson on Mukole, "He has the skills and size to play inside and outside. He shoots the ball well from 15-17 feet and he can get to the rim and finish. He's a good shot-blocker and gives us a great presence on the boards."
Another forward coming in is Nate Cooper. At 6-8, 210 pounds, Cooper comes from LEAP Academy in Camden, NJ where he averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots per game while leading his team to a 26-6 mark and a runner-up in the New Jersey State tournament. "He gives us another athletic post player," commented Jackson. "He's a long 6-8 and he runs the floor very well. He will be a great shot-blocker and great on the glass. He wants to play in the post and he works hard at the game. He has a great upside and he's great in transition. We expect him to get some minutes early next season."
Finally, the Bison will bring in Paul Kirkpatrick from Randallstown, MD. The 6-9, center helped lead Randallstown High School to the Maryland State title this past season. During the run, Kirkpatrick came on strong late in the season, starting the final 10 games, averaging seven points, six rebounds and three blocks a game.
Jackson on Kirkpatrick. "He gives us great inside presence. He's going to become an inside scorer for us. His game is raw but he's really strong mentally, so he'll be fun to coach. He has a huge upside and with his frame he can put on weight without it bothering him."
Jackson also wanted to commend his returning players and coaching staff for the stellar recruiting class. "We wanted to get some size and the coaches did a great job in getting us that size. We wanted to address our lead guard position. We signed Julius early so we took care of that. Signing Curtis was a great plus for us. Also, our players did a great job with hosting the recruits and they're very excited about the new talent."
Several publications have ranked this recruiting class in the top half of college basketball. Jackson responded to that by saying, "We're trying to build a program here. We want players who can help us defend our home court and be competitive within the MEAC and nationally. We should be able to go 10-11 deep this coming season."