Jerrod Calhoun got right to work after he was named the new Head Men's Basketball Coach at Fairmont State University. Coach Calhoun has added a sixth member to his recruiting class and this one is a pretty big deal.
Coach Calhoun announced Tuesday that he inked the signature of 6'7" Forward Brendan Cooper, a former junior college player at Lakeland Community College in Ohio. Cooper was a first team National Junior College Athletic Association player and will be afforded two years of eligibility at Fairmont State.
"I can't put into words how excited I am to have Brendan Cooper in our family," said Calhoun in a FSU press release. "We feel he is a program-changing player, a perfect fit for our campus, community, and basketball team."
Cooper notched 17 double-doubles this past season with the Lakers. He averaged more than 17 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals per game this year.
"He played for a great junior college program and a great coach, Terry Bowe," Calhoun said. "Coach Bowe does a great job getting guys ready for the next level both on and off the court. When guys come out of Coach Bowe's program, they're ready to play. We expect Brendan to come in and make a major impact right away.
"He can do it all, and his versatility is one of the reasons so many Division I and II schools were after him" Calhoun continued. "He's an exceptional athlete, but he's also extremely skilled. He can pass it, and for a 6'7" guy he can handle the ball extremely well. He has great fundamentals, and when you combine that with his elite athleticism and his work ethic, you put up the kinds of numbers that he has throughout his career."
With Cooper leading the charge, Lakeland had its best season in school history this year. The Lakers finished 27-9 and won the NJCAA Division II, Region 12, District 10 Championship. The squad finished the season as the No. 4 team in the nation and the Lakers advanced into the national tournament.
"Brendan is a winner," said Calhoun. "Obviously his numbers are impressive and his accolades speak for themselves, but it's the things he does that don't show up in the box score that I like the most. He's a tremendous leader and consistently makes winning plays. Whatever it takes to win, he gets it done."
Cooper is from Parma, Ohio and marks the sixth player of Coach Calhoun's inaugural reciting class.
"This is a great addition to our program," Calhoun added. "Brendan was one of the best junior college players in the country, and we already have one of the best returning players in the country in (senior guard) Isaac Thornton. Both of those guys are potential All-Americans, I truly believe that."
Last week, Calhoun secured a transfer from another WVIAC school. Chase Morgan is making the more from Bluefield State to Fairmont State. He will have three years of eligibility with the Falcons.
Pineville native Morgan is a 5'11" guard who averaged more than 18 points per game last season for the Big Blues. That statistic is the best in the country for freshman in Division II basketball. Morgan was named to the WVIAC All-Freshman team.
"We're thrilled to have Chase as part of our basketball program," Calhoun said on Thursday. "He's a throwback, a kid who just loves anything and everything that has to do with basketball. He proved to be one of the better players in the WVIAC this past season."
Morgan was an All-State player at Wyoming East High School. With BSU he recorded five 30-point game and 13 more than 20-point games. Two of those games exceeding 20 points were against FSU. Morgan also averaged about three assists per game.
"Chase can do a lot of things," Calhoun said. "Obviously, he can really score the ball. I think everyone in the league knows that he's capable of putting up a lot of points. He has great range on his jump shot, and plays extremely hard. He's also very unselfish. "My favorite thing about Chase is his attitude," Calhoun said. "He's a leader, and plays the game with a chip on his shoulder. He's not afraid of anything or anyone. That's the type of player we want in our program."
Morgan is the fifth member of Calhoun's recruiting class.
"I'm happy with what we've been able to do so far from a recruiting standpoint," Calhoun said. "We aren't finished yet; we have a lot of work left to do, but we're definitely off to a good start. Our staff has worked extremely hard over these past three weeks, and we're going to keep working to get better."
Also last week, Coach Calhoun signed recruits Ke'Chaun Lewis and Joey Vuyancih. Both are high school basketball players from Ohio and both signed Nation Letters of Intent.
Lewis hails from Northland High and is a 6'3" guard. He averaged 12 points per game as a senior and lead his squad to a 22-2 record.
"Ke'Chaun is a steal for our program," Calhoun said. "He's a Division I talent. I expect him to come in and work extremely hard. He will play a lot of minutes for us as a freshman.
"He gives us another exceptional athlete who can play multiple positions," Calhoun continued. "My favorite thing about Ke'Chaun is that he's really good right now, but he's going to be even better as he continues to add strength and acclimates himself to the college game. The sky is the limit for him over these next four years.
Lewis graduates from the same high school that Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Michigan's Trey Burke came from.
"He comes from a great pedigree," Calhoun said. "He's used to winning. He's played in big games, championship games. He's played alongside great players. He knows what it takes to win, and he has all the great qualities that you find in winners. I'm ecstatic to have him on board, and I know that he'll come in with a chip on his shoulder."
Vuyanchi lead his Lake Catholic High squad to a 23-3 record and is the school's all-time leading scorer.
"I've known the Vuyancih family for a long time, and they are a basketball family," Calhoun said. "He loves the game, he loves being in the gym and he loves to compete. He's going to make us better.
"The first thing that stood out to me when I watched Joey was his toughness," Calhoun added. "He's got a toughness about him that we need, and that I love. When you watch him, he might not jump out at you with super athleticism, but then you look up and his team's winning the game and he's got 25 points."
When he joins the Falcons, Vuyancich will be a guard.
"He has great vision and he can really pass the ball," Calhoun noted. "He's also got pretty good range on his jump shot. Other teams are going to have to know where he is when he's on the court. He's a playmaker.
"He plays with so much intensity and heart, and he's not afraid of hard work," Calhoun continued. "The great fans of Fairmont State are going to love watching him play for four years."
Head Coach Jerrod Calhoun's first two singees were Logan High players Stevie Browning and Trevor Evans.