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IVCC men’s basketball coach Tommy Canale may not have any stars in his 2013 recruiting class, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a strong class.
“I’ve been asked, ‘Who are the studs?’” Canale said. “I don’t really have a stud. Individually, it may not be the greatest class, but as a whole it’s pretty good.”
On Monday, Canale signed St. Bede’s Damin Smith, Mendota’s Trae Blumhorst, Ottawa’s J.D. Bryant and Seneca’s Jimmy David.
Today, Canale plans to sign Joliet West’s Tim Smith and Torrance Johnson, who plays at Southern Tech Academy prep school in North Carolina after playing high school basketball at Chicago Hope Academy. He also expects to sign Jackson Stone out of Danville, Ind. and expects to get Lincoln Land transfer Quenton Lowe. Canale is still recruiting several other players as he hopes to finish with a 16- or 17-player roster.
“We’re going to really push the tempo next year more than we ever have. We’re trying to get as many guys as we can because we’re going to have to play a lot of guys,” Canale said.
Smith, the first to sign Monday, chose IVCC in part because of the uptempo style the Eagles will play next season.
“I like coach. He’s been recruiting me for awhile,” Smith said. “I like the playing style they have and this year’s going to be more uptempo. That’s what I was hoping for.”
Smith, who also considered St. Ambrose University, Elmhurst College, Joliet Junior College and Lakeland College, averaged 11.7 points per game as a senior.
“I’ve seen Damin for about three years. He came in for a lesson and he’s kept improving and improving,” Canale said. “He kind of fits our philosophy of trying to get up and down and defend.
“He can definitely score it and shoot it and is more athletic than you think.” Canale also expects good athleticism from Blumhorst, a NewsTribune First-Team All-Area selection as a senior who averaged 16.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists.
“He can play anywhere from 2-3-4,” Canale said. “He can score and shoot from 3 and he is big enough that he can take a guy down low and score. … I think Trae has some basketball savviness to him. He’s got good pace to his game. I’m really looking for him to step in and give us a punch.”
Blumhorst considered several options before choosing IVCC.
He considered trying to walk on at Northern Illinois University and also looked at Greenville College, Elmhurst, St. Ambrose and Kishwaukee College.
Blumhorst said he chose IVCC so his father, Brian, could see him play regularly, so he could reunite with former Mendota teammate Ross Arteaga and because of Canale’s attention during the recruiting process.
Along with reuniting with Arteaga, Blumhorst is looking forward to playing with fellow local athletes Smith and Bryant.
“Damin and I go way back to fourth or fifth grade when we were playing baseball together. I’ve known Damin for a long time,” Blumhorst said. “I played against him when he was at Peru Catholic and St. Bede. We know each other well. I played J.D. for a while, too. I know them. It’ll be fun. I can’t wait to be able to play with the local guys.”
Bryant chose to play basketball at IVCC instead of pursuing a career in football.
“I think I bring a lot of energy to IVCC and coach Canale,” Bryant said. “I think I’ve learned a lot about teamwork and leadership and I can’t wait to get in there and get after it. I chose basketball over football because it’s always kind of been my top sport going back to Milton Pope when we made it to state two years in a row. I love football, but I’m glad to continue playing basketball.”
Bryant averaged 9.5 points per game as a senior.
“J.D. Bryant can just flat out shoot the basketball,” Canale said. “I told him when he came in the office when I was recruiting him that he reminds of A.J. Pierzynski. He gets under your skin. You want him on your side. He has a high competitiveness to him, which I like.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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