The spring signing period for Division I basketball in the NCAA ends Wednesday. As expected, it’s been a busy few weeks for new WKU coach Rick Stansbury and assistant Chris Cheeks, but it’s relatively quiet on the eve of the final day to sign prospects.
Stansbury has announced the signing of Australian forward Marty Leahy to join fall signee TJ Howard – a guard from DME Academy in Florida – and he has received a verbal commitment from guard Damari Parris of Evelyn Mack Academy in North Carolina. Former Washington State guard Demarquise Johnson and former Providence guard Junior Lomomba have announced their intentions to play for the Hilltoppers next season.
There are a few more targets who could make late noise before all is said and done Wednesday.
Tyrell Gumbs-Frater, who recently picked up a scholarship offer from WKU, averaged 18 points, six rebounds, and four assists at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. The 6-foot-4, left-handed shooting guard from Markham, Ontario, is also being recruited by Kansas State, Canisius, North Carolina State and Eastern Kentucky.
“The kid scores every possible way imaginable,” SPIRE coach Bobby Bossman told WBKO last week. “He’ll shoot it from deep – a streaky shooter, but when he’s feeling it he’ll shoot it from about 25 (feet). He’s got great court vision, great size, great frame.
“With his frame he’s got the ability to put on another 10 to 15 pounds over his college career. He’s bouncy. He does a little bit of everything. He’s a good one.”
Recently cleared by the NCAA to be a part of the 2016 signing class, Gumbs-Frater also played at St. Benedict Prep in New Jersey. He had a recent visit to North Carolina State canceled and was scheduled to visit Wyoming and UNLV.
Malik Lue-Mitchell, a teammate of Parris at EMA, is reportedly considering WKU or Hawaii. He told WBKO he needs to improve his Scholastic Aptitude Test before deciding on where to play, but that he hopes to do that in June.
Lue-Mitchell is a 6-foot-3 guard. The Pickering, Ontario, native played at Dunbarton High School as well.
"(Stansbury) says that I can score the ball pretty good and that I can play point guard and shooting guard – that's what he likes about me," Lue-Mitchell said. "He just said I need to get my SAT score higher so I can come and make an impact my first year instead of redshirting.
"I can shoot the ball, dribble and make plays for others. That's how I see myself – and can play defense. I bring a good tempo to the game."
Ryan Skovranko is a 6-foot-7, 190-pound shooting guard who played this past season at the Community College of Beaver County in Monaca, Pa. He scored 17.7 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from 3. He also collected 5.9 rebounds per game and dished out four assists per contest.
“He’s extremely versatile,” CCBC coach Steve Brodzinski told WBKO last week. “He’s long, he’s athletic, can play above the rim. But, really, his true position is as a shooting guard and wing player. He hit 72 3s this year, shoots it really well from the outside, can handle it and has good court vision.”
From Duquesne, Pa., Skovranko played for Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School where he was once reportedly recruited by Kentucky coach John Calipari and where he won a state championship in 2014.
Skovranko, who averaged 13.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists his final prep season, enrolled at Robert Morris to play as a walk-on, but left that program in January of 2015. This past fall, Skovranko was named to the Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference all-academic team for having a GPA of at least 3.0 and was also named all-conference.
Skovranko is also being recruited by Utah, Southern Mississippi, Nicholls State, Mississippi Valley State, Central Florida, Santa Clara, Wagner, Youngstown State, Iona, Troy, Arizona state, Memphis and Nebraska, among more, and visited North Dakota on Tuesday.
Lastly, Charlie Moore of Morgan Park High School in Illinois, recently included Western Kentucky in his final eight choices – Southern Methodist, Louisiana State, Miami (Fla.), Illinois, California, Georgia Tech and Nevada, Las Vegas were the other seven.
A former Memphis signee, Moore averaged 28 points, seven assists and five steals as a senior. He recently visited LSU, Georgia Tech, SMU and Illinois.
Western Kentucky lost seven players from the 2015-16 roster over the course of the season. Redshirt-junior guard Chris Harrison-Docks, who plans to transfer to DePaul, was dismissed from the program in January and guards Aaron Cosby and Nigel Snipes, along with forward Aleksej Rostov, exhausted their eligibility at season’s end.
Redshirt-junior guard Fredrick Edmond and freshmen guards Chris McNeal and Marlon Hunter were suspended March 17 and left the program soon after.
— Follow WBKO sportswriter Chad Bishop on Twitter @MrChadBishop