Moore Inks Five Players in Early Signing Period|
Nov. 11, 2010
CHICAGO - Head coach Howard Moore started from the confines of his home, and then headed South and East to complete his first recruiting class, one that he hopes will fulfill his aggressive vision to rebuild the UIC men's basketball program.
Moore announced the newest additions to his 2011-12 team Thursday, a five-player class that covers all five positions on the court. Chicago Public League (CPL) players Jerome Brown (6-4, SG, Morgan Park H.S.), Ahman Fells (6-5, G/F, Simeon) and Greg Travis (6-0, PG, Curie) all officially joined the program, along with 6-foot-5 shooting guard Marc Brown, out of Dallas, and Will Simonton, a 6-11 center from Fishburne Military Academy in Virginia.
"This group is going to represent the building block of our future here at UIC," said head coach Howard Moore. "They are the type of kids that we have been talking about bringing into our program since day one. They really buy into the whole student-athlete aspect, want to pursue a degree, and also want to have success and win championships on the court.
"They all expressed that they wanted to be a part of what we were building here, and they trusted our staff to help them reach their goals and achieve a lot of success at the collegiate level."
Heading into his senior year at Morgan Park, Brown was highly regarded as one of the top three-point shooters in the state of Illinois, and the top shooter in the CPL. At 6-foot-4, he possesses the ability to stretch the defense, and can put the ball on the floor.
Playing for head coach Nick Irvin, Brown impressed in his last appearance at the UIC Pavilion, scoring 18 points on six three-pointers in the first half of the Public League championship game. His recruiting picked up after that contest - Brown chose UIC over the likes of Southern Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Murray State, Bradley and New Mexico State. The main reason, according to Brown, was the relationship he formed with the Flames' coaching staff.
"I felt like I was wanted, and was completely comfortable around the coaching staff (during the recruiting process)," said Brown. "They created a real inviting environment, and it was something that I wanted to be a part of.
"Coach Moore comes from a great program at Wisconsin, and coach Kirksey is well-known in the Public League; we actually played against his Hyde Park team in the state playoffs last year; his teams always played hard. I'm looking forward to being a part of what those guys are building there at UIC."
Moore was most excited about Brown's eagerness to expand his game, and the level of energy he will bring to the team off the court.
"Jerome is a really great kid, personality-wise and character-wise," Moore said. "His basketball skill, first and foremost, is as a shooter; almost an assassin-type of shooter. He was really excited when we told him that we're going to develop him into more than just a shooter; we're going to make him an all-around player.
"That's what he wanted, and it's a challenge his facing head on. I also think Jerome has the chance to be a really good defender; he's got to guard (Louisville signee) Wayne Blackshear in practice every day, and it doesn't get much tougher than that."
Fells, a long and active wing, chose UIC over Eastern Kentucky, and crosstown rivals Loyola and Chicago State. He was a key piece on Simeon's state championship team last winter. At 6-foot-6, Fells' length will help the Flames on the interior. Among his many ways of impacting a game include strong rebounding, blocking and altering shots and playing near the rim on the offensive end.
"There was a lot of familiarity there, and everything just fit (at UIC)," said Fells. "I'm a Public League player, and with the other guys Coach Moore recruited from the city, I felt like we could do something special."
Moore sees Fells as the perfect fit for the Swing Offense, and a player that could be an offensive centerpiece.
"Ahman is a 6-6 athlete that I think can really develop into the type of player that fit the mold of Alando Tucker when he was at Wisconsin," Moore said. "He'll come in as a bit of an unknown, because no one really knows exactly what position he fits. But in our offense and our system, he could really be a guy that develops into a great player. While I don't want to put pressure on him to be at the level that Alando was; Ahman just fits that power forward/wing mold, which can thrive, develop and flourish in the Swing Offense."
Travis was recruited to be the next point guard for the Flames, and also received recruiting attention from the likes of Utah State, Bradley and Louisiana Tech. According to Moore, Travis has a high basketball IQ, understands the importance of playing his role, and takes pride in his effort on the defensive end.
"Greg is a tough-nosed, typical Chicago Public League type of point guard," said Moore. "He doesn't back down to anyone; he's a four-year starter at Curie High School, and has competed against the best the city can offer. Greg is a kid that just wins; he finds a way to will his team to wins, and that's the type of player we want in our program. Like all of these guys, he's a great student that strives for academic success, and sees the value of getting his degree from a great academic institution like UIC."
Marc Brown, a 6-4 shooting guard out of Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, was previously committed to Florida State. He chose the Flames over Central Arkansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State, along with Wisconsin, when Moore was an assistant under head coach Bo Ryan. Brown's versatility and ability to knock down perimeter shots will be vital within the Swing Offense - he's also been characterized as an aggressive defender.
"Marc is a kid that I recruited at Wisconsin, and we just kept the relationship going once I got the job here at UIC," Moore said. "That's the epitome of the recruiting aspect, where building relationships really matter. Even though we're not a Big Ten or a Big 12 school, he really valued the relationship that we had built over the years. He was also excited about us bringing the Swing Offense to UIC, because he was very interested in playing in that system.
"Marc plays with a lot of personality and a smile on his face. Specifically, he's a scorer, and he's a playmaker - he can run the floor and find his teammates, but also create scoring opportunities for himself. The biggest thing with Marc is that his high character makes him a winner at everything he does."
Simonton, a 6-11, 220-pound post, was the first commitment for Moore and his staff after officially starting at UIC in early September. He graduated from George Marshall High School (Fairfax, Va.) last spring, and spent the past year at Fishburne Military Academy. Simonton is often characterized for his mobility in the post, but also for his ability to drop shots from the perimeter. He can also run the floor, and is a very good passer.
Simonton was excited about playing his college basketball in Chicago, and for the opportunity to anchor the Flames' offense in the frontcourt the next four years.
"I loved the idea of going to school and playing in the city of Chicago, but ultimately, my decision was based on the relationship I formed with the coaches, and with the guys," said Simonton. "I was only on my visit for a couple of days, but I felt at home with the players - everybody was very proud to be a UIC Flame. Coach Moore told me that I was a perfect fit for the Swing Offense, and I've been able to study some film, as well. I can shoot, post-up, and make good passes, so I think it will be a good fit."
Moore was impressed with not only Simonton's size, but his wide-ranging skill set that is a natural fit in the Swing Offense.
"Will obviously has size, but what really stuck out to me when I first saw him play was his ability to run the floor," Moore said. "He's got a skill level that is a definite plus in our offense and our system. He can shoot from the perimeter; I think he's a very good passer, and he moves very well. He wants to be in a system where he can play inside-out, and that's the way we play - he's going to be a very good player in our program."