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Welcome back to the Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog. Yes, we're still alive, and with the 2015-16 season rapidly approaching, it's time to fire up the old blog for another season. Check back here throughout the year for updates on all things Rider and Princeton, including coverage of both the MAAC and Ivy League. Feel free to drop me a line on twitter @kj_franko (https://twitter.com/kj_franko) or email kfranko@trentonian.com.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Rider could link up with Notre Dame High's Josh Williams

Trentonian Photo/GREGG SLABODA. Notre Dame's Josh Williams could find a potential landing spot at Rider.

Rider coach Kevin Baggett may be picking up a recruit in his own backyard.

The Broncs have interest in Notre Dame High’s Josh Williams, and he could sign with the school, said his coach, Bob Turco, on Wednesday.

Williams has a few hurdles to clear if he wants to make the three-mile trip to Rider and might need a prep year, likely at St. Thomas More in Connecticut, Turco said, although the coach is hopeful that won’t be necessary.

Williams, who started at Trenton High before moving to Notre Dame, averaged 17.3 points per game as a senior for the Irish, scoring 20 or more 10 times.


At 6-foot-5, he’s the athletic wing that Rider loves.

“He’s the kind of kid that I think has a real chance to go on and play in Europe,” Turco said. “He needs people that will kick him in the behind like I did when I got him. There are good people at Rider and Kevin (Baggett) has been great. I’m comfortable knowing those are the people I’m handing him off to.”

A roster spot opened up after Derrick Stewart asked for and was granted a release to transfer, Baggett confirmed.

Derrick’s older brother, Danny (10.6 points, 7.2 rebounds), is staying for his senior season.

“Derrick just wants a chance to play,” Baggett said. “I was honest with him and told him I don’t know if there will be (playing) time here for him.”

Derrick played in just nine games, averaging less than a point per contest.

Earlier this week, Baggett announced that four players — including two-time South Jersey Player of the Year Xavier Lundy — would be joining the team for the 2013-14 season.

Also in that group is a trio of players from Florida — Khalil Thomas, Jimmie Taylor and Brandon Channer.

“I’m happy with the group,” Baggett said. “It’s always hard to tell what you’re going to get with freshmen, so there going to have to come in and work hard, but I think we got some guys that can contribute right away.”

 ***

Baggett said Jon Thompson is likely off to Europe in pursuit of a professional career.

“He’s got a good handful of opportunities from a couple countries,” Baggett said. “Right now he’s just deciding what agent he wants to sign with.

Both Thompson and Dera Nd-Ezuma are graduating this month.

Thompson earned second team all-MAAC honors, averaging a team-best 14.3 points per game.

***

A little more on the recruiting class:

Xavier Lundy (6-6 forward, Paulsboro) -- Baggett said he's a hard worker that wants to get better. Lundy was a 2,000-point scorer in high school at the South Jersey Group I school.

"He's got a chance to be really good," Baggett said. "He's a hard worker and he's going to get in the gym. He needs to define some parts of his game, but he's a slasher/scorer, and he gets a lot around the basket."

Khalil Thomas (6-7 forward, Lauderhill, Fla.) -- Rider jumped on him early in recruiting, and in turn, got him to sign early. Baggett indicated Thomas, who played at a very good high school program at Blanche Ely, might be counted on to contribute right away with the lack of front-court depth.

"He's more of a post man," Baggett said. "He's got a real high motor and the upside is great. We are counting on him and he might have to play right away. He has little fear."

Interesting note -- Baggett said Thomas was looking to come north for school. Got him on campus early and he really liked it.

Jimmie Taylor (6-3 guard, Suwannee, Fla.) -- He's a point guard that Baggett called a floor general. Numbers in high school (24 points, 10 boards per game) are great, though, Baggett said he's actually more of a pass-first guy.

"He 's got great court vision," Baggett said. "He's got a good knack for the game and he's a decent athlete. He'll look to pass first and get other guys involved, but he can turn it on."

Brandon Channer (6-3 guard, Tampa, Fla.) -- More of a combo guard, Baggett expects him to bring toughness and some maturity -- comes out of a prep school. "He's thick and strong," Baggett said.

Baggett on the three Florida kids adjusting to a new environment: "I think it will help with the adjustment because there will be something similar to them. They may not have played with or against each other, but they are all familiar with each other. I think that will help them with their transition coming up North."

***

A couple nuggets on scheduling (and remember this is all subject to change): Rider will travel to Villanova and Purdue and play in the Cable Car Classic in San Francisco. It will host America East champ Albany in a return game of the 2011-12 BracketBuster.


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