NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Stephen F. Austin basketball coach Brad Underwood announced Thursday the signing of three student-athletes, including junior college transfers Tanner Clayton and Sharife Sargeant, in addition to high school point guard Dallas Cameron. The trio marks the first signees for Underwood in his tenure as head coach.
"I think overall we knew we had some holes on our front court we had to fill and we have added a pair of players with tremendous size and athleticism, as well as a vast amount of collegiate experience under great coaches in Mike Marquis (TJC) and Charles Harral (AWC)," Underwood said. "In addition, we were able to add a high-caliber guard who we feel as though can have a quick impact on our program and could very well develop into an elite player at SFA."
Each of the players hail from out of state, including Cameron, a high school signee from Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Fla., a school which closed out the 2012-13 season ranked No. 12 in the country by USA Today.
"We want to be able to recruit nationally and feel as though SFA is a place we can bring players from all areas throughout the country. As a staff we are still going to recruit Texas very hard, but we are going to go where the players are."
Clayton is a 6-9 power forward from Arizona Western Junior College and will bring immediate size and athleticism to the Lumberjack front court. Originally a signee of USC as a volleyball middle blocker out of San Diego's Rancho Bernardo, Clayton decided to go the basketball route after his redshirt season with the Trojans.
As a sophomore at AWC, he helped lead the Matadors to a 25-6 overall record and a 19-3 mark in ACCAC play. He averaged 9.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and hit 42.9 percent from beyond the arc on the season, earning all-conference and all-region second team honors.
"Tanner was originally one of the top volleyball prospects in the country coming out of HS and just fell back in love with basketball.," Underwood said. "He is a very athletic, very skilled face-up player, but has a knack for rebounding and blocking shots. He also possesses great quickness and agility, but also is a good shooter and brings a vast array of perimeter skills that will fit in very well to the system we want to install. "
Sargeant is a 6-9 post from Tyler Junior College (TX), and averaged 5.5 points and pulled in 2.8 rebounds for the Apaches, who went 22-9 in 2012-13.
Originally a native of Bronx, N.Y., Sargeant will bring much-needed bulk and depth to a Lumberjack roster, which will return just two players at 6-6 or taller. He reached double figures in scoring four times last year in a reserve role for Mike Marquis' TJC squad, including an 11-point outing late in the season versus Panola College.
"Sharife is an athletic, physical, hard-playing,tough-minded kid. He played for great a great coach in Mike Marquis, and won at a very high level in junior college," Underwood said. "He has a physical presence that we need at both ends. Sharife does have the capability to score and knock down a shot from 15-17 feet, but his physicality is the biggest thing he brings to the table."
He is the first signee for SFA from Tyler Junior College since Jack Little was inked to the 'Jacks in 1990, and is one of six players off of this year's Apache squad to sign with a Division I institution.
Meanwhile, Cameron comes to Nacogdoches after a decorated career at Ely High School in Pompano Beach that saw him leave school as its all-time winningest player with a 100-11 career record and a pair of Class 7A state titles.
"He is a winner, first and foremost., and is one of the hardest-playing young men I've ever watched play," Underwood said. "Dallas comes from a great program, and is a guard who can play the point, but can play off ball as well. He is a very good perimeter shooter with great leadership qualities."
Cameron checks in as a 6-3, 175-pound point guard, and was the MVP of the Florida state tournament as a senior. He averaged 10.8 points, 6.4 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 2.3 steals as a senior in addition to being named the Broward County Player of the Year twice in his prep career. He led EHS to a 27-2 record this year, including a perfect record against in-state competition.
"Dallas always drew other team's best player on the defensive end," Underwood said. "He does all the intangibles to win, yet has the skill set, size and athleticism that makes me believe he has the ability to be a great, great player at SFA."