Head Coach Will Biggs and the Cal State East Bay men's basketball team announced the signing of eight players on Monday, rounding out the 2011-12 signing class. Three true freshmen and five community college transfers will join early signee Tre Mauldin in the fall and are set to make an immediate impact for the Pioneers in their first season of postseason eligibility in Division II.
“We are pleased to announce our incoming class for 2011-12,” Biggs said. “It has a balanced mix of three new freshmen, plus early signee Tre Mauldin, and five community college transfers, four of whom are fourth-year juniors, with a lot of experience. We have addressed some serious needs and now that we are eligible for postseason competition, with this group, making the playoffs is a realistic goal.”
A 6-4 wing out of Fontana, Quinton Lilley recently completed his senior year at Summit High School. Lilley averaged nine points and five rebounds per game as the captain for the CIF Division II State Finalists this year. Lilley helped guide his squad to a 28-7 record as a senior, earning his second straight first-team All-Sunkist League and All-Inland Empire honors. A four-year varsity letterwinner, Lilley was also a scholar-athlete each of his four seasons at Summit.
“Quinton brings a toughness and winning attitude that is required to be successful in the CCAA,” Biggs said. “He is a left-handed scorer with strength, explosion and is fearless. Quinton has a high basketball I.Q. and will compete for quality minutes this season.”
Hailing from Alameda, Jacari Whitfield comes to Cal State East Bay from St. Joseph's High School. A 5-7 point guard, Whitfield averaged 13 points and six assists per game as a senior. During the 2011-12 campaign, he guided the Pilots to the California Division V State Championship, knocking down five threes in the title game. Whitfield is a three-time All-Bay Shore Athletic League First Team selection and garnered second-team All-State Division V and third-team All-Bay Area honors as a senior.
“Jacari is an exciting player who understands the game and makes his teammates better,” Biggs said. “He has tremendous quickness, sees the court well, and truly is a coach on the floor. Jacari is a winner and, like Quinton, will bring tremendous character and the intangibles crucial to the success of our program.”
Otaniyen (Ota) Okungbowa joins the Pioneers from Monterey Trail High School in Elk Grove, where he averaged 16 points and eight rebounds a game as a senior. The 6-3 combo guard shot 65 percent from the field last year and earned first-team All-Delta Valley Conference honors. Okungbowa led Monterey Trail in scoring and rebounding while leading the Mustangs to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, where they fell to eventual champion Sheldon.
“Ota is a lanky, athletic player that can score, defend and rebound,” Biggs said. “His best basketball is ahead of him. We see him growing a couple more inches and believe he will develop into an all-conference-level player. We are excited to have him in the program, as he's another tremendous young man that loves hoops, has tremendous character, work ethic, and is a great teammate.”
A 6-7 wing, Nick Marshall is a Vallejo native and comes to East Bay from Las Positas Community College. A two-year starter for the Hawks, Marshall averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game as a sophomore in 2009-10, earning first-team All-Coast Conference honors. As a freshman, Marshall was an honorable mention pick after averaging eight points and eight boards per game.
“Nick took a year off from basketball and we are excited he has signed to play for us,” Biggs said. “He is a gifted athlete in the “Kevin Durant” mold. He is long, can run, shoot on the perimeter, post-up inside, pass, get in lanes defensively and rebound. Nick will create problems in our conference with his versatility. Along with his talent, Nick is another great team player. Coach Costello at Las Positas loved coaching Nick and we will too.”
A native of Troy, Idaho, Jason Smith is a 6-4 shooting guard out of Walla Walla Community College. A two-time first-team All-Eastern Region selection for the Warriors, Smith averaged 19 points per game in two seasons. Smith scored over 1,000 points and hit 246 threes, while shooting 42 percent from long range and 84 percent from the free-throw line during his career at Walla Walla. As a senior at Troy High School, Smith led the team to the 2007-08 Idaho 1A State Championship and was Idaho 1A Player of the Year.
“Jason will be a weapon for us,” Biggs said. “He has range, a quick release, can knock down shots on the move and really score off screens. He's going to make me a better coach.”
Mayela (Felix) Mapanda joins the Pioneers from Fresno City College, where he averaged six points and four rebounds per game off the bench last season for Head Coach Ed Medec's prestigious program. A 6-4 athletic wing, Mapanda helped Fresno to the state Final Four, its 10th consecutive Central Valley Conference title and a 31-3 record, scoring nine points and adding six rebounds in the Rams' state semifinal matchup with Citrus College. A native of Patterson, Mapanda averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds per contest during his prep years.
“Mayela is a tremendous recruit from the second-ranked community college basketball program in the nation,” Biggs said. “At Fresno City his role was to rebound, defend, and be an opportunistic scorer. His statistics don't catch your eye, but his work ethic, enthusiasm and ability to play above the rim will. We see Mayela as an athletic scorer that will be given the freedom to make plays on both ends of the floor. We can't wait to see him with Pioneers across his chest.”
Hailing from South Lake Tahoe, Vince Cappellino comes to Cal State East Bay from College of the Redwoods. The 6-5 wing averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game as a sophomore for the Redwoods, earning All-Golden Valley Conference First Team honors last season. Cappellino brings CCAA experience to the Pioneers as well after spending two seasons at San Francisco State. As a Gator, Cappellino played in 15 games before redshirting the 2009-10 season. As a prep athlete, Cappellino was a second-team all-league performer for South Lake Tahoe High School.
“Vince is a solid player, and will be a glue guy for us, as he does many things well,” Biggs said. “At a legitimate 6-5, Vince can play four positions, giving us tremendous flexibility and depth. He passed up other scholarship offers to come back to the CCAA and compete in the best Division II conference in the country.”
A 6-6 wing out of Hayward, Jurrell Turner returns to the Bay Area after redshirting last season at NAIA Wiley College in Texas. Prior to his stint at Wiley, Turner played two seasons at Mendocino College in Ukiah. A four-year varsity letterwinner at Mt. Eden High School, Turner helped the Monarchs to back-to-back 10-win seasons in his final two years.
“We recruited Jurrell out of high school when he was all knees and elbows at 6-2,” Biggs said. “Well, Jurrell is now 6-6, and his coordination has caught up to his height. He has a great feel for the game and has always over-achieved. He adds another piece to the puzzle for us to be competitive in the CCAA.”
The eight signees join early signing period addition, Tre Mauldin, a 6-foot point guard and two-time all-valley selection out of Santiago High School in Corona, as the Pioneers look to make a name for themselves in the CCAA in 2011-12. The nine signees will add athleticism, height and talent to a Cal State East Bay team that returns its top two leading scorers from last season in Mark Samuels and Roshun Wynne. The Pioneers will kick off the 2011-12 campaign with an exhibition against Division I Pacific in Stockton on Nov. 5 before opening the regular season at home against Dominican on Nov. 11.