Courtesy: Kent State Athletic Communications
DeAndre Nealy Jr. F 6’6” 230 Detroit, Mich. / Mott J.C. [Mich.]
Carlton Guyton Jr. G 6’4” 175 Chicago, Ill. / Mineral Area C.C. [Mo.]
Eric Gaines Fr. G 6’4” 180 Chicago, Ill. / Hillcrest H.S.
Mark Henniger Fr. F 6’8” 190 Massillon, Ohio / Massillon-Jackson H.S.
Kenny Knight Fr. F 6’7” 205 Cincinnati, Ohio / Aiken H.S.
KENT, Ohio – With six seniors on the roster this season, Kent State men’s basketball Head Coach Geno Ford will have a lot of shoes to fill for next season. The biggest step in rebuilding next year’s roster is already complete as the Golden Flashes signed five players in the November early signing period. Joining the KSU program next fall are DeAndre Nealy, Carlton Guyton, Eric Gaines, Mark Henninger and Kenny Knight.
A 6’6”, 230 lbs forward, Nealy signs with Kent State out of Mott Junior College [Mich.]. He capped off a well decorated 2008-09 season by earning NJCAA All-American Honors, on top of his all-region and conference player of the year awards. For the season, he averaged over 15 points and eight rebounds and led all levels of college basketball with an astounding 7.6 blocks per game.
“DeAndre is a very athletic post player who comes from a great junior college program coached by legendary Steve Schmidt,” said Ford. “He is a tremendous shot blocker with great timing and a good rebounder that should have a positive effect for our program on the defensive end.”
A product of Detroit Central High School which also produced for KSU All-American Antonio Gates, Nealy averaged 16 points and helped lead Mott to a 35-2 record and the 2008 NJCAA National Championship, where was named all-tournament MVP as a freshman. After taking Mott to a 29-6 mark last season, he was ranked the No. 26 junior college recruit in the country by Rivals.com and was the top rated NJCAA Division II player.
“In 19 years, I’ve never coached a player like DeAndre who could have such an impact on a game defensively,” said Schmidt. “Plus, he has really come along way into developing into a complete player. I am happy with the way Coach Ford and the Kent State staff stuck with him throughout the recruiting process and expect him to thrive with their program.”
“I have always known about Kent State’s winning tradition and know a few former players like Jay Youngblood who played at Mott and Antonio Gates, said Nealy. “The coaches made me feel very comfortable with everything and helped me see that I need to be in a place where I am surrounded by people who care.”
Guyton, is a 6’4”, 180 lbs long, athletic guard that had a huge summer for his Illinois Ice and Bobcat AAU squads. In four games this season, he leads Mineral Area College with 13 points per game including a season-high 21 in a 68-66 loss to No. 6 ranked Southwestern Illinois College in the Cardinals last game.
“Carlton is a multi-talented perimeter player who can play all three wing positions on offense and defense, said Ford. “He is unselfish with great vision and the ability to create his own shot at anytime. With the departure of our current perimeter players to graduation (Chris Singletary, Mike McKee and Tyree Evans), he has the opportunity to come in and contribute right away.”
Starting the final 15 games of last year, he helped lead his team to a 19-12 record and a Region XVI Championship game appearance. As a high school senior at Rich South in Chicago, Guyton averaged 17.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and shot over 75 percent from the foul line while earning all-conference honors.
A 6’4”, 180 lbs guard, Gaines averaged 13 points last season for Hillcrest High School, which also produced former KSU standout Armon Gates. A versatile, athletic wing that can play the shooting guard or small forward, he is ranked as one of the top 20 recruits in the class of 2010 for the state of Illinois.
“I saw Eric play this summer and was extremely excited about him. He is the type of guard that excels in the Mid-American Conference because he is long, can handle the ball, and has good size for a perimeter player,” said Ford. “As he works on his outside shot and skill set, he will become an excellent player for us and we are very excited to have him at Kent State.”
Known for his defensive versatility, Gaines also runs the floor well in transition. In addition to his 13 points, he littered the stat sheet with 3.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.3 steals per game last season for a team that went 20-10.
A local product from nearby Massillon-Jackson High School, Henninger is a 6’8”, 190 lbs forward that averaged over 20 points and eight rebounds a game last season. In addition to Federal League Player of the Year honors, he was also named special mention all-state while playing for Mark Fuline.
“Mark fell in love with Kent very early on in his search for a college, said Fuline. “The instant respect he had for the coaches and program made it a very easy decision for him to make.”
A player with a high basketball IQ, Henninger has the ability to stretch the defense with his jump shot and can finish around the rim.
“Mark is somebody that we have recruited for over two years now and we are thrilled he choose to come to Kent State,” said Ford. “We are extremely excited that a local player of his caliber chose to come to KSU. He is a great student that comes from a great family and will be an excellent representative of our university.”
Knight is a 6’7”, 205 lbs forward playing for Aiken High School in Cincinnati this season. A high energy post player, he is extraordinarily active around the basket on both ends of the floor. Coming off a very good AAU season, Knight played with the Queen City Prophets for coach Ozzie Davis and really matured as a player.
“Kenny is a great athlete very assertive on the glass that should really blossom in our program,” said Ford. “He is your prototypical MAC four-man, who plays with a lot of passion and can have an impact on the game by blocking shots, rebounding and defending.”
After transferring from Winton Woods High School, Knight sat out last season. A decent shooter with range to hit the outside shot, he was rated among the top 2010 players in the state of Ohio.