The early signing period concludes with the Flames signing all 5 of their verbal commits – Braxton Bonds, A.C. Reid, Ezra Talbert, Stavian Allen, and Evan Maxwell. Hopefully you caught our Signing Day Primer all week which we updated as each NLI was signed. Liberty still has at least one more scholarship available for the class of 2014. As we put a bow on the early signing period, here are a few thoughts regarding the recruiting class as a whole and each recruit individually:
Allen is sure to become a crowd favorite with his crazy athleticism. He can jump out of the gym. He reminds me a bit of former Flame Gabe Martin, and also has a little bit of current Flame Drew Smith in him. But don’t think he can’t shoot it, Allen has range out to 3-point land. He was told that he could see time as a “stretch 4” while at Liberty, but I’m sure we will see him spend time at both forward spots. As his body continues to develop, he may grow into an every day 4 man. FlamesNation should expect to see him in the mix as a reserve forward next season behind Gielo and Smith.
Bonds comes from a winning program as his high school team, Christ Presbyterian Academy, is 74-4 over the past 2 seasons with 2 state championships. He has been rated a 3 star prospect by Scout, and is a pure, pass-first, point guard. He averaged 11.4 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.1 steals during his junior season at CPA. I love this quote from him: “On defense, I want to get a hand or foot on every ball, every possession.” Expect him to ease into the college game as he develops his freshman year behind Joe Retic, but as a sophomore, Bonds will be counted on to lead the team.
Coach Layer & company went into the heart of Texas to snag Reid who had offers from local schools Sam Houston State and Texas State to go along with his offers from Hampton and The Citadel. Reid will be “coming home” as he is originally from Virginia; both of his parents played college basketball at Norfolk State. I love his length, at 6’6″, and with Talbert and Allen in the same class manning the forward spots, Reid will spend most of his time at the 2. A.C. shot 48% (76/158) from behind the arc as a junior. The starting 2 spot is wide open for next year, and Reid will be firmly in the mix with Ethan Layer, Chad Donley, and Ryan Kemrite.
Talbert has an incredibly high basketball IQ, and is one of the highest rated recruits in this class. He originally committed to Creighton who is now a member of the Big East. Anytime we’re able to sign someone with that much potential, it’s a good get. Watching film on Talbert, he reminds me of Tomasz Gielo with a little more polish finishing in the paint. He will fight with Allen and Alcegaire to be the top forward off the bench as a true freshman.
Looking at Maxwell’s junior season stats leaves a lot to be desired, but the coaching staff obviously saw something in him. With the departures of Coronado, Vander Pol, and Burrus following this season, there is definitely going to be minutes to be had in the post next season. Is Maxwell going to be up to the challenge of competing with Sommy Ogukwe early on?
The class of ’14
As a whole, this could be in the mix for one of the best signing classes in Liberty’s recent history. Of course, the recent “Magnificent Seven” comes to mind with Seth Curry, Jesse Sanders, etc. Every signee in this class had multiple Division I offers, with most having 5+. If everything pans out with this group, you could one day see a starting lineup with Bonds, Reid, Talbert, Allen, and Maxwell. Next season the early projected starting lineup will be Retic, (opening at the 2), Gielo, Smith, and Ogukwe. With the obvious exception at the 2 guard, this class will likely fill in as the top subs off the bench. Also, as sophomores, this group will be counted on to lead the team.
Coach Layer still has at least one more scholarship open in this class, so it will be interesting to see which direction he goes with it. The top needs on the team are at the off-guard position and in the post.