Nov. 15, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ----- Five basketball standouts -- four from the high school ranks and one junior college prospect -- have signed National Letters of Intent to play at UAB, head coach Jerod Haase announced Thursday.
In announcing his first early signing class, Haase said he feels the quintet of highly-regarded recruits are characterized by versatility with the ability to play multiple positions.
Tyler Madison (6-4, G, Columbiana, Ala./Shelby County HS), Tosin Mehinti (6-9, F, Lithonia, Ga./Greenforest Mccalep Christian Academy), C.J. Washington (6-8, F, Augusta, Ga./Tallahassee CC), Dayshawn Watkins (6-0, G, North Little Rock, Ark./North Pulaski HS) and Denzell Watts (6-2, G, Flint, Mich./Carman-Ainsworth HS) will join the Blazers for the 2013-14 season.
"We are thrilled about the class we have this year," said Haase. "We have players with great character and these players will be able to play some big-time basketball. We have a lot of versatility with most of these players being able to play multiple positions. We can plug in a lot of different alignments, and they will complement what we already have in our program.
"For this class, we had five spots, and we wanted everything covered. We wanted hustle guys and capable shooters. C.J. can definitely be a three-point shooter, and all of the other guys can shoot well, too. We are really excited about the overall talent of this class."
Madison is a local product from nearby Shelby County High School. He was named the Birmingham News Shelby Player-of-the-Year last season and was an honorable mention all-state selection. As a junior for the Wildcats, he led all scorers and rebounders in the Birmingham area with averages of 27 points and 13 rebounds per game.
"On the court, Tyler is a warrior who has the ability to guard multiple positions," Haase said. "He can rebound with guys who are much bigger than he is. He is coming around as a shooter and playmaker as well. He is a perimeter player, and I believe he will be a big-time player for this program."
Mehinti, who attends Greenforest Mccalep Christian Academy in metro-Atlanta, has only been in the U.S. for just over two years. The native of Nigeria is rated as one of the top prospects in Georgia and was named a third-team preseason all-state selection for 2012-13.
"Tosin is long and bouncy, and he has only been playing basketball for a few years now," said Haase. "He has a skill set that is developing. He also has a chance to be a big-time player. He is long and lean as a shot blocker, and he can run the floor. He can do all the things we emphasize in our program. He has the ability to score the basketball with his back to the basket."
Washington, the lone junior college signee in the class, averaged double-digit scoring (12.7 ppg) in his freshman season at Tallahassee Community College. He connected on 57 percent of his shots and also pulled down 4.6 rebounds per game. A product of Augusta, Ga., Washington attended Butler High School where he led his team to the Georgia 3A-AAA state championship game. He scored over 1,000 points during his prep career.
"C.J. has a little more experience because he is a little older than the other guys," Haase said. "He is extremely versatile as he can play multiple positions, basically anywhere on the court. He's skilled enough after he secures a defensive rebound to break out and dribble and take the break himself. He can definitely step out to the three-point line and be an effective scorer."
Watkins is one of the most highly-touted prep backcourt prospects in Arkansas as he has twice been named All-State by the Arkansas Activities Association. Last season, he averaged 16 points and five assists per game. In addition, as a junior, he was named to the All-State Tournament team while attending North Pulaski High School. Now at North Little Rock High, Watkins has also been the point guard for the Arkansas Wings who won the AAU National Championship in Orlando, Fla.
"Dayshawn Watkins is as quick a point guard as there is in the country coming out of high school," said Haase. "In terms of his quickness, there are very few players who can do what he can do. "He has the ability to push the basketball and make simple plays."
Watts, now in his senior year at Flint Carman-Ainsworth High School, is coming off back-to-back outstanding seasons. He was named first-team all-state by Associated Press following his junior year when he averaged 20 points, six rebounds and six assists. He scored more than 30 points in three different games and had a high-point effort of 38 vs. Swartz Creek. Watts averaged 19.6 points, four rebounds and four assists as a sophomore and was an honorable mention all-state selection.
"Denzell is also a guy who can play multiple positions," said Haase. "He handles the ball very comfortably, so he can play the point but also either of the wing spots as well. He also has a presence about himself, and he is very, very tough. Throughout his career and I know this year, too, he'll be a big-time scorer. That means he can shoot the three-pointer and knock down mid-range shots."
2012-13 UAB Men's Basketball Signees
|Tyler Madison||Guard||6-4||Columbiana, Ala. (Shelby County HS)|
|Tosin Mehinti||Forward||6-9||Lithonia, Ga. (Greenforest Mccalep Christian Academy)|
|C.J. Washington||Forward||6-8||Augusta, Ga. (Tallahassee CC)|
|Dayshawn Watkins||Guard||6-0||North Little Rock, Ark. (North Little Rock HS)|
|Denzell Watts||Guard||6-2||Flint, Mich. (Carman-Ainsworth HS)|