Mike Stetson, Sports Information Director
FOREST CITY – The Waldorf men’s basketball team isn’t reloading, or rebuilding: The Warriors are preparing to dominate.
Coming off a trip to the North Star Athletic Association title game, Waldorf head coach Nigel Jenkins didn’t rest a bit, hitting the recruiting trail hard to sign 14 new Warriors, seven transfers and seven high-school seniors in a 2020 recruiting class filled with star players.
“I really like this class,” Jenkins said. “We have a very good balance of youth, experience, size and athleticism.
“I believe we have addressed all the needs I was looking for,” Waldorf’s coach added. “It’s hard to replace those four seniors from last year but I believe this class will help us keep moving the program forward.”
Last season, seniors Demitrius Martin, Melvin Martin, Brady Kuchinka and Gabriel Munoz helped guide the Warriors within a win of the NAIA Division II National Tournament.
Demitrius Martin became the program’s third NAIA All-American, Munoz was named the NSAA Defensive Player of the Year, and Kuchinka became the program’s all-time assist leader.
Big shoes to fill, so Jenkins signed a junior college All-American, an All-Region XIII JC performer, an Iowa All-State high school senior and a conference high school MVP from Minnesota to lead a power-packed class.
“The depth of this class combined with our returners will make for some really good, competitive practices,” Jenkins said
The Warriors returner starting junior guard Quincy Minor Jr. (13.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who was second on the team in scoring, and along with significant contributors in sophomore forward Tristan Furgeson (3.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg) and sophomore forward Ka’Jon Smith, who played in 17 games.
The Warriors also return sophomore forward Tahir Ramsey (4.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg), who was sidelined with an injury early into last season, and senior guard Shandon Hicks, who red-shirted last year.
Leading the way among the transfers are 6-foot-1 guard Lorenzo Smith and 6-0 guard Josh Arnold.
Smith was named a Second Team All-American after leading Dakota County Tech College to back-to-back National Tournament appearances. The St. Paul, Minn., product and two-time high school state champion averaged 14.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game list past winter.
As for Arnold, an Apple Valley, Minn., product and All-Region XIII selection at Central Lakes Community College, he averaged 16.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game this past winter, while also shooting 44.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
Both will be juniors when they hit the court for Waldorf at the Hanson Fieldhouse, as will be 6-1 guard Kesean Warren who is from Lithonia, Ga., 6-2 guard Jeff Lee from Grand Rapids, Mich., and 6-0 guard Gavin Smith from Staples, Minn.
Warren and Lee each took last season off after Warren averaged 13.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game at Merced College, and Lee scored 7.4 points and grabbed 2.2 rebounds per game for Bakersfield College.
Smith had 4.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per game at Central Lakes this past season.
Joining them will be 6-1 sophomore guard Dylan Anderson from Memphis Tenn., who transfers from Jackson State Community College and last played high school ball at First Assembly Christian School in Cordova, Tenn., and 6-6 forward Prince Campbell, who will be a junior for the Warriors. Campbell, who is from New Orleans, La., comes in after averaging 9.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game at Baton Rouge Community College.
“The transfer class is very deep and talented, and these guys have won a lot of games between them,” Jenkins said. “Their leadership and experience will be very important for the success of our program. I expect them all to make an impact on our program in their own way.
“The guard play of this class is outstanding,” Jenkins added, which includes five incoming freshmen. “We have some guys who can fill it up from the outside and make plays for themselves and their teammates.”
As for the incoming freshmen, leading the way is local star Chett Helming, a 6-6 forward from Lake Mills who is a two-time All-North Iowa Conference player, was a Third-Team All-State performer this past winter, and named to the Albert Lea Tribune’s All-Area team as he averaged 19.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
“Our bigs our long and athletic,” Jenkins said as the Warriors added three new forwards, two freshmen and a transfer. “Along with our returners, there will be some very good battles inside.
“I look forward to getting to work with these guys. It’s a great group of guys who are team-first guys. This will be fun.”
Helming is joined by Metro East Player of the Year Shaheed Muhammed, a 5-11 guard from Woodbury, Minn., and North St Paul HS, who averaged 18.6 ppg.
While Helming and Muhammed boast the awards, they’ll be joined by equally talented star recruits in 6-1 guard Zaveon Smith, also from Woodbury, Minn., 6-8 center Aaron Sullivan from Corpus Christi, Texas, 6-3 guard Tomas Gonzalez from Marbella, Spain, 5-11 guard Armani Faneitty from Kissimmee, Fla., and 6-1 guard Nicholas Ackerman from Ackley, Iowa.
Smith showed off his star-power for Washington Tech HS where he averaged 22.8 ppg, while Sullivan shone bright in the Lone Star State averaging 13.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest at Calallen HS.
Gonzalez joins the Warriors after playing at Lahden Lyseo HS, Faneitty most recently finished his high-school career at Poinciana HS, and Ackerman average 10.0 points and 2.0 assists per game for the Hardin County Home Educators team in a home-school league.
“I am extremely excited about this freshman class,” Jenkins said. “This is about as good of freshman class that I have had in a while. The overall skill set of these guys is pretty impressive. We have some guys who can fill it up and a big fella inside that will be a presence for us.
“They all have a lot to learn and improve on making the jump to college,” Waldorf’s coach added. “If they stick together and grow together, this will be a scary group by the time they are seniors.”
Waldorf fans can get their first look at the new Warriors on October 17 when the men’s basketball team is scheduled to play a scrimmage against an alumni team. Waldorf then opens the 2020-21 season at the Governors State tournament in Illinois.
The Warriors make their home debut at the Hanson Fieldhouse on Halloween, hosting McPherson at 7 p.m. on Oct. 31.