(from gomocs.com) CHATTANOOGA---Chattanooga Mocs Head Men's Basketball Coach Lamont Paris has been on a bit of a whirlwind ride in his first month on the job. Part of that is recruiting for the 2017-18 season. To that end, he announced his initial four signees for the 2016-17 class.
"Extremely excited about the group," Paris shared. "It's nice to be able to come in and make an impact bringing some much-needed depth. All of these fit specific needs while building toward the future."
Three high school seniors and a four-year transfer are the first to sign with the 20th head coach in school history. Justin Brown, Jonathan Bryant II and James Lewis, Jr., are the trio from the prep ranks, while Jerry Johnson, Jr., comes to Gig City from Fairfield University.
Brown nearly averaged a double-double posting 11.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 3.2 blocks per game for Gene Nolan at Marist High School in Chicago. He helped lead the RedHawks to a stellar 27-4 record in 2016-17, 8-1 winning the East Suburban Catholic Conference.
He improved his scoring average by more than four points and rebounds nearly doubled. Brown's progress brought this note from Chicago Sun-Times.
"In the 20-plus years of the City/Suburban Hoops Report, there have been very few players who have improved more as a player over the course of their high school career than Brown. The development of Brown has been pretty astounding. When watching Brown as a young high school player, no one could have envisioned a player with multiple scholarship offers by the time he was a senior."
Bryant holds several career records at Oakleaf High School in Orange Park, Fla., a suburb of Jacksonville. He set new marks for season (490 points as a junior) and career scoring (1,381) playing for Jason Price. He's also the career record holder for rebounds, steals, 3pt made and attempted, field goals made and attempted and free throws made and attempted.
The 2-time Clay Today Player of the Year averaged 18.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a senior. A 2-star prospect per verbalcommits.com, Bryant scored 974 of his record 1,381 over his final two seasons.
Lewis completed a post-graduate year at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., in 2017. The future150.com 2-star pick averaged 18 points and 11 boards at Phillips under Terrell Ivory's tutelage. That came after a strong prep career in North Carolina.
The Mount Holly native completed his N.C., high school career at Northside Christian Academy in Charlotte tallying 16 points and 12 rebounds per game for Byron Dinkins. He moved to Northside from Gaston Day in Gastonia where he posted a double-double average of 11.4 points and 10.3 boards per contest.
Johnson returns to his southern roots from Fairfield, a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). The Memphis native started 14 of his 55 collegiate appearances averaging 9.8 points and 3.0 rebounds shooting 36.1 percent from 3pt range.
He recorded double figures 28 times with three 20-point efforts including a high of 26 at Iona this season. Johnson spent the bulk of his high school career at Houston High School in Germantown, Tenn. The All-Metro performer for the Mustangs completed his prep career at Notre Dame Prep School in Fitchburg, Mass.
Johnson ranked 13th in Massachusetts, 48th in New England, by New England Recruiting Report and was a 2-star prep prospect per verbalcommits.com. He helped lead the Crusaders to the 2015 National Prep Championship tourney.
The quartet joins Joan Duran from the early signing period. Duran, a 6-7 forward who prepped at Hamilton Heights Academy in Chattanooga under former Mocs guard Zach Ferrell, is a junior college transfer from Eastern Florida State College.
Duran averaged 9.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game helping lead the Titans to the NJCAA Division I Championship game. He shot 52.7 percent from the field including 37.7 percent from 3pt range. He was a 2-star prospect per verbalcommits.com coming out of high school.
Fans can order 2017-18 season tickets here on GoMocs.com. Purchases can also be made at the box office or by calling (423) 266-MOCS (6627).
Paris on Brown:
"Justin's length and athleticism is something that's coveted. He has a ways to go physically, but what he does well are some of the more difficult things to teach. His feel for the game is good, he's an under-rated passer and he's really hungry to develop."
Paris on Bryant:
"Bryant is extremely excited to be a Moc. Physically, he's a little more advanced, a little more college-game ready than the other high school guys. He shoots the ball well and is a good athlete."
Paris on Lewis:
"Lewis has a ton of ability. Some of the things he does really highlights his overall skill and ability. He needs to get stronger...physically, he's a little ways away, but that's to be expected with high school guys. His skill set really attracted us with how we like to play."
Paris on Johnson:
"Johnson is a proven shooter. He's shown he can score, but more specifically, his ability to shoot the ball with range is something that instantly got us excited. Being from Tennessee, it's great to have a guy be able to come back to the state to finish his career. He's got a lot of maturity and is someone who's played a lot of college basketball which is great adding to the mix."
Current 2016-17 Mocs Signees
Name: Pos. | Ht. | Wt. | Hometown (Previous School)
Justin Brown | C | 6-10 | 195 | Lansing, Ill. (Marist)
Jonathan Bryant II | G/F | 6-4 | 200 | Orange Park, Fla. (Oakleaf)
Joan Duran | F | 6-7 | 220 | Santo Domingo, D.R. (Eastern Florida St.)
*Jerry Johnson, Jr. | G | 6-2 | 210 | Memphis, Tenn. (Fairfield)
James Lewis, Jr. | F | 6-8 | 200 | Mount Holly, N.C. (Phillips Academy)
*Expected to sit out 2017-18 season due to NCAA Transfer rules