By ALAN HOSKINS
KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- A 7-foot center and versatile 6-3 guard are the latest additions to the Kansas City Kansas Community College basketball program.
“To be successful, it’s important to have diversity,” says Newton, a former standout at Wyandotte High School, Neosho County Community College and the University of Oklahoma. “Not only do we need to recruit locally and the surrounding areas, we have to be competitive at the national level to reach levels not reached before.”
Alexander, who averaged 10 points and 8 to 12 rebounds a game for Theodore Washington, selected KCKCC over at least seven other colleges. “A friend of mine contacted Coach and he recruited me,” said Alexander, who considers rebounding and defense to be his biggest strengths. “I like to set picks, block shots and catch alley oops for dunks.”
“He’s going to be great for our team,” says Newton. “Right now he’s real good at defending and rebounding and will be a definite plus at starting fast breaks and as a defensive anchor. I’m really looking forward to watching him grow over the next two years.”
Holmes averaged 14.9 points and 2.6 assists, led Cleveland Heights in rebounds (5.2) and shot 51 percent from the field. “KCKCC was the first school to recruit me,” said Holmes, a ball handler who prefers assists over points.
“An extremely versatile player, Jeremy was able to play all five positions at some point,” said Cleveland Heights Coach Andy Suttell. “His physical strength made him a very strong perimeter player, able to score as well as distribute the basketball and guard multiple positions on the floor. His game is still growing and with the right mentality, his best basketball is in front of him.”
“I’m really excited about Jeremy being here, he’s going to be a heckuva player,” says Newton, who has been a close observer of Holmes the last couple of years. “His father played at the University of Pittsburgh. Very athletic, he’s a good shooter and defender and a hard worker who comes from a good family.”
Holmes and Alexander will be joined by three other out-of-state recruits announced Monday by Newton:
AUSTIN HALL a 6-5 forward-guard from Gateway High School in Aurora, Colo. “Long and athletic, Austin brings a great deal of versatility to the table,” says Newton. “He can play anywhere from shooting guard to power forward. With his size, we’ll move him around a lot. His coach and I have been talking for about the five or six months about players in Colorado and Austin is one who stood out.”
ANDRE RUNNELS, 5-10 guard from Del City High School in Midwest City, Okla. “His No. 1 attribute is his defense,” says Newton. “He’s a very, very tough defender who will provide us a lot of toughness and grit we need to play tough-nosed defense. Plus, he’s a very capable ball handler.”
ARMONI SHORTER, 6-7 forward from Chicago, Ill. Not exactly a newcomer, Shorter spent the spring semester enrolled at KCKCC.
“Armoni never played high school basketball but got his GED and enrolled the spring semester to get his grades and learn how do things basketball-wise,” says Newton. “He’s still got a lot to learn but he’s long and athletic, can shoot the three, rebound, and defend and will be a good asset to our team.”
Previously announced recruits include guard Zach Jackson and forward-center Joe Lendway from Lansing’s undefeated state championship team; C.J. Harper, forward from Piper; guard Dehven Talley from Shawnee Mission Northwest; and guards Tevin Downing and Braeson Sester from Shawnee Heights.
“We’re still looking for a couple of more players but I’m happy so far,” says Newton. “I’m really excited for everyone to be here so we can go to work.” Most players are expected in late July or early August.
The Blue Devils return three veterans, forward Clay Young of Lansing who average 10.0 points and 5.6 rebounds, 5-8 guard Anthony Ridley, who led in assists while averaging 8.9 points; and C.J. Vallejo, a 6-4 sophomore guard who was red-shirted last season.
PHOTO: Depth at the guard and center positions at Kansas City Kansas Community College was fortified Monday by the signing of 6-3 Jeremy Holmes of Cleveland (left) and 7-foot Nicholas Alexander of Washington, D.C. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)