NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Stephen F. Austin head basketball coach Brad Underwood today announced three additions to the Lumberjack roster. Forwards JaQuan Smith and T.J. Holyfield and center Jovan Grujic have all committed to SFA and will join the Lumberjack roster for the 2015-16 season.
“I'm very excited about this signing class and looking forward to all three joining the program,” said Underwood. “They all have great athleticism, bring some obvious size and tremendous length to our program. But each of them also bring something different which will be a tremendous addition to our roster.”
Grujic is a 7-0, 225-pound center from Serbia who currently resides in South Kent, Connecticut. This past season Grujic averaged 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game, leading South Kent to a 23-9 record and a semifinal appearance in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) tournament. A member of the Serbian U19 national team, Grujic will compete for his home country in the U19 World Championships this summer.
“Jovan brings obvious height – a 7-0 guy with a 7-4 wing span that is tremendously skilled,” Underwood said. “He can step out and shoot the three and also brings some much needed size on the interior. Jovan is an outstanding student and gives us a new dimension we have not had.”
Holyfield is a 6-7, 210-pound forward from Manzano, New Mexico, and currently attends the Elev8 Sports Institute in Delray Beach, Florida. Holyfield averaged 17 points and seven rebounds in 2014-15, helping Elev8 qualify for the National Prep Championship for the first time in the program's history. He is the younger brother of Michael Holyfield, the 2015 SLC Defensive Player of the Year from Sam Houston State.
“T.J. will be a great combo forward and will bring some versatility,” Underwood said. “He has a 7-0 wing span and has the ability to guard multiple positions. He can also score from three-point range as he is highly skilled and is also a great student in the classroom.”
Smith is a 6-9, 250-pound forward from Baltimore, Maryland, competing the last two seasons at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. Averaging six points, eight rebounds and three blocks per game, Smith helped guide the Mavericks to a 19-12 record and was named to the All-Region team as Northern Oklahoma advanced to the regional title game. He leaves as the school's all-time leader in blocks in both a single season (95) and a career (151).
“JaQuan is a long, physical athlete that will add a big shot-blocking presence,” Underwood said. “He brings a physicality to the team that we have not had previously. He is a great runner and a tremendous athlete that will cause issues for our opponents with his 7-5 wing span.”
The trio join the three other Lumberjacks that signed with SFA during the early signing period in November – guard Lasani Johnson (Dallas, Texas) and forwards Nathan Bain (Freeport, Bahamas) and C.J. Williams (Powder Springs, Georgia). Height was a key component of this year's recruiting class as four of the six are 6-7 or taller as the ‘Jacks look to replace one of the most successful graduating classes in program history.
SFA is coming off its third-straight regular season Southland Conference title and back-to-back SLC tournament titles and NCAA appearances. SFA ranks among an elite group of teams in recent seasons, ranking seventh nationally for wins since 2012-13 (88) and is one of 10 teams to record at least 25 wins in each of the last three years.
7-0 • 225 • Center • Freshman
Pancevo, Serbia • South Kent School (Connecticut)
Prior to SFA: Attended South Kent School in South Kent, Connecticut … Averaged 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game as a senior … Helped lead the Cardinals to a 23-9 record, advancing to the semifinals of the NEPSAC tournament … Coached by Kelvin Jefferson … Member of the Serbian U19 national team, competing for his home country at the U19 World Championships in the summer of 2015 … Chose SFA over Texas Tech, Rhode Island and UNLV.
6-7 • 210 • Forward • Freshman
Manzano, N.M. • Elev8 Sports Institute (Florida)
Prior to SFA: Played for Elev8 Sports Institute in Delray Beach, Florida … Averaged 17 points and seven rebounds per game as a senior … Helped Elev8 qualify as one of eight teams to compete in the National Prep Championships, the first time in program history to compete in the tournament … Coached by Brett Newman … Chose SFA over Southern Miss, FAU, Boston College and Pittsburgh … Younger brother of 2015 SLC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Holyfield.
6-9 • 250 • Forward • Junior
Baltimore, Md. • Edmondson H.S./Northern Oklahoma College
Prior to SFA: Spent two seasons at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, Oklahoma … Averaged six points, eight rebounds and three blocks per game … Helped lead the Mavericks to a 19-12 record, advancing to the regional championship … Member of regional all-tournament team … Holds school record for blocks in a season (95) and career (151) … Coached by Donnie Jackson … Attended Edmondson High School in Baltimore, Maryland … Chose SFA over Louisiana Tech, Iona, Middle Tennessee and North Carolina State.
Courtesy: SFA Athletics