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Forbes eager 'to put final pieces on' new group of Bucs

Joe Avento • May 27, 2018 at 1:13 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Recruiting never stops, East Tennessee State men’s basketball coach Steve Forbes says, especially when the summer is about to begin and he still has a scholarship to offer.

“We’re going take our time,” Forbes said. “It could be done next week and it could be two weeks or four weeks. We just need to get the right guys.”

Even though the official signing period began a month and half ago, Forbes says there are plenty of good players out there to fill his roster.

Last year, ETSU found a gem late in the game. Jalen McCloud was the last player Forbes offered a scholarship. After signing in August, McCloud became a second-team All-Southern Conference selection.

Forbes, who has a reputation for signing transfers, will have at least two high school players in his latest recruiting class, and both — Carlos Curtis of Milwaukee Riverside and Daivien Williamson of Winston-Salem Prep — recently capped spectacular senior seasons.

“I’m so excited for these two high school players,” Forbes said.

Curtis had already made a name for himself as an all-state player, but he added to his legend with 34 points in the recent Wisconsin-Michigan all-star game. Curtis, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard, was playing against commits from Butler and Purdue and more than held his own around the rim.

The all-star series featured the top high school seniors from Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. The organizer’s website said “Curtis scored on a variety of moves and dunks.” He was the high scorer of the day.

Curtis averaged 19 points per game as a senior and scored 34 in a victory over Milwaukee Vincent that clinched the city title for Riverside.

“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Forbes said. “He’s an explosive scorer.”

Meanwhile, Williamson, a 5-11 point guard, averaged 23.1 points per game and was the MVP of the North Carolina 1A state championship game after leading Winston-Salem Prep to the title. He scored 27 in his high school finale.

“Just a great character kid and he can really play,” Forbes said.

Forbes also added four junior-college transfers to this class. Isaiah Tisdale was a first-team All-American at Vincennes University in Indiana. He recently played in the national junior-college all-star game in Las Vegas. Also joining the Bucs will be Trey Boyd, a 6-4 guard who made 106 3-point shots last year for Northwest Florida State, and D’Andre Bernard, a 6-9 forward from Georgia Highlands College.

The Bucs’ latest junior- college transfer was confirmed on Saturday with the addition of 6-3 guard Kevon Tucker from Gordon State College. Tucker, an honorable mention junior-college All-American, originally signed with Wofford out of high school.

Forbes says he’s looking for size with his final scholarship.

“We need to sign another inside player,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys on the board right now. We’re just trying to wade our way through that.”

The new recruits will join a solid nucleus of returners even though the Bucs lost eight seniors from last year’s team that won 16 games in a row at one point.

Forward Bo Hodges, the Southern Conference’s freshman of the year, is expected to be a focal point of the team’s offense next season.

“He showed a lot of promise, and he was playing out of position,” Forbes said. “This year we’ll play him as a big wing and you’ll see him blossom even more.”

Mladen Armus, a 6-10 center from Serbia, joined Hodges on the SoCon’s all-freshman team. Armus has gotten bigger and could become a dominant inside force.

“He had a tremendous spring,” Forbes said. “When he left here, he weighed 242. He came to the United States two years ago at 207. He’s really improved a lot.”

Two more players from last year’s roster, 6-7 Jeromy Rodriguez and shooting guard Pat Good, will be making their first appearances for the Bucs in November. Rodriguez, a former junior-college All-American, missed last season after undergoing elbow surgery and Good sat because of the NCAA’s transfer rules after joining ETSU from Appalachian State. Good, a former David Crockett star, averaged 7.0 points per game and made 41 percent of his 3-pointers as a freshman with the Mountaineers.

“Jeromy is a really good player,” Forbes said. “He’s ready to go. He’s been playing with our guys. I’m really encouraged by him. And Patrick Good has put on 14 pounds of muscle. We all know he can shoot, but he does so many things. I really look for him to be a leader.

“I’m really happy where it’s all at. We just have to put the final pieces on it soon.”

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