As we continue our 2012-13 Season Preview, we want to introduce you to the new players on every Ohio Valley Conference team.
Tennessee Tech is going through what some people would call a rebuilding year. Tech coach Steve Payne disagrees with the designation, but given their large roster of new players, how knows that this season could be a challenge.
Here are the many New Kids on the Block:
This is the first of many names on the Tennessee Tech roster I’m going to struggle to spell properly throughout the season. This is my apology in advance.
Diressa is a long way from home, coming to Cookeville from Eastern Commerse High School in Toronto, Canada. You may have heard of that high school: Since 1995, they’ve put 19 players into Division 1 programs.
As a senior, Diressa, who apparently goes by “Manny,” led Eastern Commerce with 17.3 points per game, adding 8.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists a game, earning team MVP honors. That team finished the season 37-7.
Payne calls Diressa a “big time shooter,” adding “he has a tremendous feel for the game and is a good ball-handler and distributor. We are looking to use Manny as a big two-guard who could possibly slide to the one.”
There are a few videos of Diressa on Youtube, including this highlight package from the 2012 OFSAA:
A 3-star Rivals and 2-star ESPN rated player, Haynes was ranked by College Sports Madness as a top-150 recruit in 2012. As an AAU player, Haynes averaged double-figure scoring with multiple 20-point performances with the Birmingham Storm Elite squad.
In high school, Haynes played for Calera High School, where Haynes was named the Alabama 4A Player of the Year for a very impressive three consecutive seasons.
ESPN calls Haynes a “a true point guard with good speed, quickness and athletic ability,” a point which coach Payne agrees with.
“He has a chance to be an impact player in the league with terrific athleticism at the point guard position. He’s quick and explosive. Offensively, he can get in the lane, make plays above the rim, and has a terrific passing game.”
There weren’t any longform highlight videos of Haynes I could find, but I did find a great dunk Haynes made during an AAU game this past season:
A guard out of Marietta, Georgia, Esters-Johnson (full last name is hyphenated) played at Walton High School, averaging 24 points per game during his senior season.
Over the course of his career at Walton, Lanerryl was named first team all-county, all-state and all-region. He was also honored as the MVP of the Ranier Beach tournament and was a member of the all-tournament team at the Glaxo Smith Kline Invitational.
When he first signed with Tech over a year ago, Payne said Johnson “has tremendous speed and quickness to his game.”
Here is a package of highlights of Johnson’s senior year at Walton:
This is one “new kid” who won’t make his debut this season. That’s because Moore will sit out this season after transferring from Nebraska, per NCAA transfer rules.
In his one season as a Cornhusker, Moore played limited minutes in 15 games, averaging 1.9 points and 0.5 rebounds per game on 46% shooting. He did earn one start late in the season, against Michigan State.
In high school Moore helped lead Norcross High School to a Georgia 5A state title in 2011, averaging 11.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game to earn second-team all-state honors. His play helped him be rated the No. 61 shooting guard in the nation by ESPN, and a 3-star prospect by Rivals before choosing to play at Nebraksa.
Here are highlights from Moore’s senior season at Norcross:
A 2-star ESPN rated prospect, Morse is yet another in the long line of Georgians to play for the Golden Eagles. (If you remember, most of TTU’s starting lineup last season, including Kevin Murphy and Jud Dillard were from Georgia) In fact, Morse is the high school teammate of current Golden Eagle junior Matt Marseille. (Although Morse says that didn’t factor into his decision to play at Tennessee Tech.)
And the Cookeville connection doesn’t stop there. Morse plays AAU basketball for the Georgia Stars, a club which has turned out current Tech talents Zac Swansey, Kevin Murphy and Terrell Barnes.
Morse wasn’t just a basketball player in high school, he was also a track and field athlete whose specialty is the high jump, a rather useful skill in basketball.
In its assessment of Morse, ESPN.com called the combo forward a “great-looking prospect with tremendous upside.” According to the scouting service, Morse is an active athlete comfortable at the power forward position but skilled enough to play facing the basket on the perimeter.
The following highlight video is from his junior year at Dacula high school.
Has Tennessee Tech considered moving their campus to Georgia? Another Georgian on this year’s team is the 6-foot-9 Riggins, who sat out last season as a true freshman.
A native of Suwanee, Georgia, Riggins averaged a double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) his senior season at North Gwinnett High School. That’s part of the reason Riggins was a candidate for the McDonald’s All-American award.
Riggins was a two-star Scout and ESPN recruit out of high school, (unranked by Rivals) and called “a long, lean athletic forward with some bounce.” ESPN continues to say Riggins “is a very good shot blocker that is difficult to score over in the low post because of his timing when contesting a shot. ”
This is another name I know I’m going to misspell at some point. I also hope I’m never asked to pronounce it. Samarrippas is transfer out of Southern Methodist University (known to most as SMU) and is eligible to play the 2012-13 season after receiving NCAA clearance.
Samarrippas was cut from the Mustangs by new head coach Larry Brown, being told by the former NBA coach that he “basically wasn’t good enough to play for him.” I think that might be a source of motivation…
And here’s the thing…Samarrippas started all 31 games the year before as the team captain. During his sophomore year, Samarrippas averaged 6.9 points, and 4.2 assists per game, good enough to rank fifth in Conference USA. He also started 30 games as a true freshman.
This is a kid I’m very high on. I think he’ll make a great replacement for Zac Swansey, who graduated this past year. (And was another player I enjoyed to watch play.)
Video posted below is from a 59-57 win last season over Tulsa
A 7-foot center from Dublin, Ohio, Weisenbach was a shot blocker extraordinaire at Dublin Coffman High School, averaging 3.5 blocks a game his senior season.
But head coach Steve Payne says Weisenbach (which is another fun name to spell, by the way) isn’t your standard 7-footer. “He’s seven feet tall but he handles the ball like a guard and he can really shoot it.” Payne added, “You’re not going to find many kids his size as fluid as he is at 17 years old.”
Weisenbach wasn’t an established scorer in high school, averaging just 7 points, as well as 5 rebounds his senior year.
No gameplay video this time, but instead, I present you a video his high school posted, with Weisenbach showing everyone what it’s like being 7-feet tall. And it includes Planking!