ELKINS - Davis & Elkins College second-year head men's basketball coach, Chris Cottrell, is excited to announce a six man signing class for the spring of 2014.
After a successful debut season on the sidelines, in which the Senators won 13 games (tied for the most since 1986) and defeated Cedarville University for the first post-season win since the 1980-81 season, Cottrell has added high school talents from Florida, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia.
The first player to sign his National Letter of Intent to play for the Senators was combo guard Xavier Sewell, from Clarksburg High School in Montgomery County, Md.
Sewell, a 6'2" guard graduated from Clarksburg High School and as a senior last year averaged 14 points per game, shot 70 percent from the free throw line, and made 28 three-point field goals.
Sewell played in the prestigious Capital Classic All Star Game and the Buffalo Wild Wings All Star Game this spring, and the Montgomery County All Start Game. He was selected to the first-team All 4A West Division, as a senior.
"Xavier is a player with a tremendous potential," Cottrell said. "He has a beautiful left-handed shooting stroke and is one of the more athletic guards I will have had the privilege to coach. He has a bright future in our program both on and off the floor."
The second National Letter of Intent earned by Cottrell and assistant coach Jay Reid will also bolster the backcourt.
Logan Coats, a 6-foot-5-inch wing previously at Fork Union Military Academy, has also committed to play for the Senators beginning next fall. As a post-graduate at Fork Union, Coats averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds per game. Coats distributed 6 assists per game. He was nominated as one of the top 35 Post Grad Players in Virginia. Coats, originally from Roxboro, N.C., where he attended Person High School and graduated in 2013.
As a senior at Person, Coats averaged 10 points and four rebounds per game, while dishing out an average of three assists. He was a PAC 6 All Conference Honorable Mention selection in 2012-13.
"Logan Coats is a bouncy and athletic wing with high basketball skill set," Cottrell said. "I expect him to have a very positive impact on our culture and strengthen our returning back-court next season. He shoots it at a high level and is athletic enough to guard all three positions on the perimeter. Not only that, he is of the highest character and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to coach him."
The third and fourth recruits both come from the sunshine state. In mid-June, Cottrell received commitments from power forwards Rickenjee Bellevue and Shon'Dre Dukes.Bellevue graduated this spring from Liberty High School, in Kissimmee, Fla.
At Liberty, Bellevue a 6'7, 220-pound power forward, averaged 10 points per game, six rebounds per game and two blocked shots per game as a senior. He was an All-Orange County Belt Conference Selection.
"Rickenjee is a great kid, and a super basketball player, with a very high ceiling. He is skilled to 17-foot on the perimeter but has proved throughout his high school career he can play inside. He impacts the game both offensively and defensively. I am thrilled to be adding a player of his character, academic strength and athletic potential to our program."
Shon'Dre Dukes graduated from Vanguard High School in Ocala, Florida. A 6'8", 215-pound power forward, Dukes averaged 6 points per game, 6 rebounds per game and 2 blocked shots per game for a Vanguard High School team that finished the year 19-10 overall.
"Shon'Dre is a tremendous athlete, who will give us a much needed physical presence inside," Cottrell said. "Offensively, Shon'Dre is great around the rim with soft hands and great touch, capable of finishing plays. Defensively he is a strong, explosive athlete who is capable of protecting the rim and rebounding at a very high level. Dre has a great personality and will fit perfectly into our program's culture."
Cottrell did not need to look far to find the final two commitments for his 2014 recruiting class.
"Identifying the best local talent and getting them to stay close to home, regardless of where you coach, is always the number one priority in recruiting," Cottrell said. "With the rebuilt culture of our men's basketball program and our first class athletic facilities, we can forcefully sell our program's vision and attract players from not only Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina but also right here in West Virginia."
Zach Fisher, a 6'0" combo guard from Winfield High School, inked with the Senators this spring. He averaged 18 points per game, six rebounds per game and five assists per game as a senior. Zach was voted First Team All Kanawha Valley this past year and was a 1,000 point scorer over his Winfield career.
"Zach Fisher is one of the best kids I have ever recruited," Cottrell said. "He is of highest character and talent. Being a West Virginia kid, it was a natural recruiting process and I am excited to be adding him to our program. Zach can really shoot the basketball and he will add a much needed stretch dynamic to our backcourt next year."
The final piece to the Senator puzzle is John Riley, a 6'5" 220-pound forward from Weston. Riley played his high school basketball at Lewis County High School where last season he averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds as a senior. He finished his four-year career as the all-time leading scorer and rebounder at LCHS, accumulating more than 1,800 points and 1,000 rebounds. He was two-time Big Ten Player of the Year and was named to the All-State Team last season. As a senior, John was a McDonalds All American Nominee.
"I am personally thrilled with John Riley's commitment to Davis & Elkins College," Cottrell said. "John comes from a great family and embodies everything that I want our program to stand for. He has a tremendous work ethic, great skill and most of all possess unmatched competitive-character. I am excited to coach John and help him achieve his goals in our program, on and off the court."
Bellevue, Coats, Dukes, Fisher, Riley and Sewell will be part of a Davis & Elkins College men's basketball team that returns 65 percent of their scoring and rebounding from a 13 win team in 2013-14.
"This was the second consecutive recruiting class in which we addressed our needs on the court and also strengthened our program's culture," Cottrell said. "Through relentless recruiting efforts and the focused development of high-character and high-talent players over the last 14 months, we have built a foundation for our program that I am excited to see develop over the next 3-4 seasons. Our men's basketball program's ability to attract great character and great talent from up and down the east coast is a testament to the tireless work of my assistant coach Jay Reid as well as the returning players in our program who believe in our vision."
In Cottrell's first year at the helm the Senators finished 13-17 overall, and ranked top 30 in the country in overall defense, top 50 in overall rebounding and top 100 in overall offense.
In Cottrell's first full academic year at Davis & Elkins, the Senator men achieved an overall 3.0 GPA.