SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth men's basketball team will add five talented freshmen to an already-loaded roster for the 2018-19 season, according to head coach Matt Logie.
The five newcomers will join a squad that returns six starters and the top five rotation players off the bench. The Pirates went 24-4 last season and were ranked as high as 2nd in the D3hoops.com poll.
"In past recruiting cycles our newcomers have had great opportunities to earn early playing time and fill voids in our program, which this class would be capable of in a normal cycle," said Logie, who is 173-28 (.861) heading into his eighth season at Whitworth. "However, each of these young men desires to be a part of something bigger than themselves, which is exciting. I feel that we have found high character people and families that match the culture of our basketball family and are ready to attack the process of being their best due to this highly competitive environment."
The incoming class includes three backcourt players and two frontcourt players.
Rowan Anderson is a 6'-0" point guard from Portland, Oregon. He averaged 15 points, six assists and five rebounds as a senior at Cleveland High School, earning second team All-Portland Interscholastic League honors. He was also second team All-P.I.L. as a junior when he finished second in the state in assists per game (6.5). He surpassed 1,000 points and 325 assists in his career at Cleveland and earned the school's Sportsman of the Year award following his senior season. He was a two-time team captain.
"Rowan played in arguably the best basketball conference in the state of Oregon and had great success against a variety of other talented future college players," Logie said. "Rowan is a true point guard as he has the ability to create for others and score. Rowan will have the opportunity to compete against some of the best Division III guards in the country every day in practice and has the talent, work ethic, and passion for the game to hold his own."
Michael Coumont comes from nearby Freeman, Washington, where he was one of the most decorated local players over the last two seasons. The 6-3 guard scored 1,127 career points and helped lead the Freeman Scotties to three consecutive WIAA 1A state title game appearances. He was selected as the Northeast A League MVP as a senior, following first team All-NEA recognition as a junior. He averaged 19.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game as a senior and earned WIAA All-State 1A All-Tournament recognition. He was also a WIBCA All-State honoree.
"Michael is an explosive athlete who has played point guard and shooting guard during a prolific high school career," Logie said. "His athleticism and finishing ability will be a nice compliment to some of our other back court pieces and we are excited to see him add his winning pedigree and competitive drive to our program on a daily basis."
Standing 6-7 and weighing 200 pounds, Liam Fitzgerald will add size and depth to the Pirates' front line. Fitzgerald averaged 17 points, 8 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 4.2 blocks per game as a senior at Leilehua High School (Mililani, Hawaii), earning All-State (ScoringLive.com) and All-State Defensive Team (Hawaii Prep) as a senior. He is the two-time Oahu West I Player of the Year and earned first team all-league recognition three seasons in a row. The Leilehua Male Athlete of the Year for 2017-18, Fitzgerald comes to Whitworth with a 3.97 high school GPA and as a member of the National Honor Society.
"Liam's length and athleticism will be extremely valuable on defense as it allows him to defend multiple positions and rebound and block shots out of his area," Logie said. "Offensively, Liam has played all over the court due to his ability to handle the ball, shoot and pass, which will fit in nicely with a variety of players around him."
J.T. McDermott will join two of his former AAU teammates at Whitworth. The 6-5 forward from Pleasanton, California played in the same club program as NWC Player of the Year Kyle Roach and Kevin Crosno while starring at Foothill High School. He averaged 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals per game as a senior, earning first team All-East Bay Athletic League recognition. He was the MVP of two tournaments – The Tim Cole Memorial and the Stoneharbor Tournament.
"J.T. is a versatile forward who brings a combination of athleticism and skill to the position in a similar fashion to Jared Christy," Logie said, referring to Whitworth's current All-NWC forward. "Coming from the same AAU program as Kyle and Kevin, we know that J.T. has been well-coached and that he competed against some of the nation's best players and we look forward to seeing him meet that same challenge every day here at Whitworth."
The final piece of the incoming class is Garrett Paxton, Kamiakin High School's (Kennewick, Wash.) all-time leading scorer with 1,235 points. The 6-3 wing was a WIBCA All-State honoree after averaging 16.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game as a senior. He was a two-time first team All-Area selection and earned first team All-Mid-Columbia Conference as a junior and senior. Sporting a 3.97 high school GPA, Paxton was Kamiakin's Winter Scholar-Athlete of the Year two seasons in a row.
"Garrett is the full package - a tremendous student-athlete and proven winner," Logie said. "Garrett is as well-rounded and mature on the court as he is off the court. He possesses a great fundamental skill set and leads by example. We are thrilled that Garrett has chosen to be a part of our basketball family and we know his best basketball is yet to come."
The 2018-19 Pirates will begin practice in mid-October. Whitworth will play an exhibition game at Montana on November 2nd and will officially open the schedule on November 16th in a game against St. Olaf College played at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon.