By Jeff Nations - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- This is the fun part -- and the tough part -- of the year for Massanutten Military Academy postgraduate boys basketball coach Chad Myers.
On the one hand, it's always an affirmation and a positive as a coach to see your players move on to the collegiate level. Myers saw it three times at once on Monday, as MMA's Terry Brutus, Cam Jones and Chase McEwen all signed their national letters of intent during a ceremony in the school gymnasium.
Then again, with those three joining Zac Grossenbacher (Wofford) as official college signees and with up to five more soon to follow, Myers knows he has a major rebuilding job in store for next year at MMA after leading the Colonels to a 28-8 season that ended with a 92-88 loss to eventual national champion Brewster Academy in the National Prep Championship tournament quarterfinals in New Haven, Conn.
Brutus, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound power forward, signed with Ole Miss on Monday after visiting the Oxford, Miss., campus this past weekend. Brutus canceled a planned trip to Illinois. He took an official visit to UNC Charlotte during the early signing period and made an unofficial trip to George Washington as well, but quickly made up his mind after visiting Ole Miss.
"I liked the team, I liked the campus, they have a good coaching staff," Brutus said. "I like their playing style -- I got to play with the team a little bit -- all their players are cool. I just liked the experience. I know I can fit in there and play well with them."
The Spring Valley, N.Y., native expects the Rebels to turn things around in the Southeastern Conference, and he's looking forward to being a part of that next year. At MMA, Brutus averaged 18 points, nine rebounds and three assists per game.
"Terry came in here pretty heavily recruited, had some offers -- Marquette and Missouri, a couple other people were recruiting him last summer trying to get him to come," Myers said. "He came down because -- obviously he's a great physical presence -- but he needed to work on his perimeter game a little bit. He's making shots now. He came in here and worked his butt off every single day."
Jones, a 6-4 guard from Roanoke, rewarded the persistent recruiting efforts of Kennesaw State by signing with the Owls on Monday.
"They showed me a lot of love," Jones said. "They were here, like every week, it was either the head coach or an assistant. They told me I would get a lot of playing time as a freshman, depending on how hard I worked, which is OK because I'm a hard worker. I'll work my way up."
Members of the Atlantic Sun Conference, Kennesaw State finished just 3-28 last season under first-year coach Lewis Preston. Jones, who played high school ball at Patrick Henry, is ready to help make a difference.
"It's new. New coaches, whole new staff," Jones said. "Their past isn't too good, but it's going to change. They have a few guys from last year, and a lot of new guys coming in. It's going to turn around."
Myers said Jones ended up with four or five Division I offers. Jones averaged 17 points, five rebounds and four assists per outing at MMA.
"Cam Jones was the kind a kid in Roanoke who'd never really played on the circuit, never really played AAU," Myers said. "I'm from Roanoke so a million people have told me he had great potential, a chance to be really good. He came in here and started to kind of peak during the year. I think one of the biggest things was, our first game against Oak Hill, he had 24 in an exhibition game. That kind of helped him gain confidence and realize he can play at a high level."
McEwen, from Upper Marlboro, Md., already knows one of his future teammates at NCAA Division II Tusculum. McEwen took his visit at the same time as Winchester's Devin Call, who played this past season at Fishburne Military School after a standout career at Millbrook. Now both are headed Greeneville, Tenn., to play for the Pioneers.
"It's an opportunity for me to play right away and possibly start right away in my freshman year," McEwen said. "Bringing me and Devin in, I think we both can make an immediate impact."
A 6-2 guard, McEwen was drawn to Tusculum's block scheduling policy that will allow him to focus on one class at a time. That, and the chance to play a lot from the start for the South Atlantic Conference school.
"He's a guy who's really, really athletic," Myers said. "He's really in between a one and a two, more of a combo. The best thing for him is he's got a chance to go in there and play right away."
Myers is expecting more commitments soon. Brian Harris, who'd previously committed to Duquesne before a coaching change there, is now considering that school plus Florida International, Wofford, Robert Morris and Quinnipiac. MMA's Cody Joyce, who just made a visit to Division II Shepherd, has an offer from Colgate after an official visit there. Three other MMA postgrads are likely to sign with Division II schools.