Nobody told Southwestern Illinois College basketball coach Jay Harrington that recruiting 13 basketball players for the 2016-17 season would be easy.
But slowly and surely, Harrington has been restocking the Blue Storm’s basketball talent pool. With the announcement on Monday that four players, including Granite City senior Tra’ron Allen, have signed to attend SWIC beginning later this summer, Harrington is nearly halfway home with six players currently committed to play for the Blue Storm.
“We’ve been looking everywhere and so far we’re very pleased at what we’ve been able to bring in. Not only are these kids good players but they are great kids. The type of kids that we want to bring into our program,” Harrington said. “In addition to the kids that we have signed, we have a number of others we’re looking at and are bringing in to work out and visit the campus.”
Allen, a 6-foot-5 guard and forward, averaged 14.1 points and six rebounds as a senior for Granite City, which enjoyed one of its most successful seasons in recent years with a 14-15 record.
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“Tra’Ron is a terrific young man and we’re ecstatic that he is joining our basketball program at SWIC,” Harrington said. “He didn’t score a lot because they had Kenny Berry, but he can score and he’s tremendous rebounder who plays hard and with a lot of energy. The way Tra’Ron plays remains me a lot the way Chris (Galbreath) played here the last two years.”
Allen joins Kenny Roberson of East St. Louis and Teddy Fifer of Metro-East Lutheran as local players who have signed to play at SWIC next season.
Freeman, Cliff and Davis join Blue Storm
Luke Davis, a 6-8 forward-center from DeKalb High School along with Derrion Cliff from Dyersburg, (Tenn.) and Naeem Freeman from Indianapolis will also join the Blue Storm program next season.
Davis averaged 17 points for a Bards team that won 25 games and was among the top large school teams in northern Illinois this past year.
“Luke is power forward/center combination player who can step out and shoot the 3-point jumper or he can post up inside. He’s left-handed and he’s equally effective with his back to the basket or facing it,” Harrington said. “He’s got a chance to be a big-time player.”
Cliff is a 6-1 205-pound guard who can play either the point or off guard spots, while Freeman is a 6-6 athlete who can run, jump and score, Harrington said.
“Naeem played at one of the top high schools — Ben Davis — in Indiana. He only averaged nine points a game but the leading scorer on the team only averaged 11. He’s’ a young man with tremendous athletic ability who like Luke (Davis) has a chance to be a special player,” Harrington said. “Derrion is simply a player who plays and competes above the rim. He’s a 6-1 guard whose team threw alley-oop passes too. But he can also flat out shoot the basketball.
“When we brought him in we were really impressed with not only his ability as a player but he’s such a great kid. Like I said, all of these kids we are bringing in just seem like they are excited and want to be here at SWIC.”