BANNER ELK – The Lees-McRae Bobcats are working hard at finalizing their 2016 recruiting class and have already locked down two big time performers that had a lot of Division 1 interest and chose to sign with the Bobcats.
Florida guard Marcus Cassesa, who averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks per game as a senior, will have a chance to get a lot of playing time right out of the gate for the Bobcats, especially with the departure of Conference Carolinas Player of the Year, Austin Anderson. Cassesa picked the Bobcats over Florida A&M, The Citadel and Kennesaw State.
The Bobcats will also have the services of Georgia big man Keith Heard. The 6-8 forward averaged 10 points and eight boards a game and was one of the best shot blockers in the state of Georgia with over four blocks per game. Heard chose Lees-McRae over Georgia State, Georgia Southern and Florida A&M.
LMC also received a commitment from Charles Dickson, a shooting guard from Chicago who committed in April. Dickson averaged almost 15 points per game and eight rebounds.
Messiah Baptiste, a point guard from Cox Mill High School in Concord, will walk-on to the Bobcat team and add a little more depth at the PG position
“We’re extremely excited about this class,” said Lees-McRae head coach Steve Hardin. “Hopefully we’ll have about two to three more for this class too.”
The Bobcats lost three seniors from last year’s squad and two freshman left the team for personal reasons, according to Hardin.
Hardin has gotten a lot of help from assistant coach Daniel Waln, who has been working hard looking for some impact players to help build the Bobcat program.
“Coach Waln was the catalyst for getting two of the guys we signed. He talked to them pretty much every day and made sure we got them taken care of,” said Hardin. “He loves getting on the recruiting trail.”
On Thursday, LMC received a transfer from UVA-Wise guard Phillip Owens. He averaged 14 PPG for his previous school.
“I want to give a huge thank you to Coach Waln and Coach Hardin for believing in me and giving me this opportunity to grow as a person and basketball player. Proud to say I’m a part of the Bobcat Family,” Owens said in a statement on Twitter.
The Bobcats have seen their program continue to reach higher levels each season. LMC has now added the top Division II recruiting class in each of the last two seasons.
With these big time players coming in, two of them being listed as three-star recruits on the recruiting website VerbalCommits.com, expectations will continue to rise for the “Dunk Mountain” program.
“We feel like we’ve got a chance to have a really good year next year. These freshman will help us build our program and create some longevity for the future,” said Hardin.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87