Kirk Earlywine chuckled at the suggestion of it being a recruiting redo.
Still, Eastern Washington University’s third-year men’s basketball coach said Tuesday afternoon that it was difficult to come up with a better tag after the school announced the addition of five new players – including former Gonzaga Prep standout Sean Fischer – to this year’s recruiting class.
The announcement came almost six weeks after EWU released the names of four previous letter-of-intent signees that included in-state high school recruits D’Vonne Pickett, Chris Holmes and Jeff Forbes, along with Lake Land (Ill.) Junior College standout Stevie Hendrick.
But of those four, only Forbes, a 6-foot guard who played on Federal Way’s 2009 State 4A championship team, ended up meeting the academic standards necessary to attend Eastern on an athletic scholarship, which prompted Earlywine to adopt Plan B.
Joining Fischer, a 6-0 guard and All-Greater Spokane League selection who averaged 12.8 points for the Bullpups last winter, are Glenn Dean, a 5-10 guard from Seattle’s Roosevelt High School, who spent last year at the Laurinburg Institute preparatory school in North Carolina, and Laron Griffin and Tremayne Johnson, freshmen from Los Angeles Southwest College.
In addition, Eastern announced the signing of Alden Gibbs, a 6-3 guard from College of the Siskyous in California and 2007 graduate of Canarsie High School in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“Back in the fall, when we signed some of those kids, we knew a couple of them were, academically, going to go to the wire – all the way to June – until we knew whether they qualified or not,” Earlywine said, adding he is still hoping Holmes and Pickett might still enroll at Eastern as non-qualifiers next fall.
“Obviously, we were keeping very close track of all those guys academically, so we’ve continued recruiting all along.”
Of the Eagles’ latest announced recruits, the best would seem to be Gibbs, whom Earlywine claimed would be “as good or better an athlete” as any player in the Big Sky Conference. No statistics were immediately available for Gibbs, Griffin, Johnson or Dean, but Earlywine said he was pleased with the different attributes all four bring to his program.
Dean signed with Portland State out of high school before deciding to go to prep school, but some “family issues,” according to Earlywine, prompted him to return to the Pacific Northwest.
“And we’re the beneficiaries of that,” Earlywine said, adding Dean is a “very, very close friend” of the Eagles’ Abebe Demissie, who redshirted last winter. “Abebe certainly helped us get him over some higher-profile, big-name schools.”
Earlywine said he still has one scholarship remaining, but will not necessarily use it to bring in another JC transfer or foreign player.
“I feel good about the recruiting inroads we’ve made in state,” he said. “So, maybe we’ll hold that scholarship until next year.”
Earlywine added he expects the other seven players – including seniors-to-be Benny Valentine, Brandon Moore, Matt Brunell, Mark Dunn and Gary Gibson – from last year’s team to return.