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By Allen Moff | Staff writer
After losing its top two scorers from last year's 21-win squad, the Kent State men's basketball program headed into the off-season seeking scoring punch.
The Golden Flashes believe they've found it in transfers Derek Jackson and Devin Carter, who signed National Letters of Intent to join head coach Rob Senderoff's program on Wednesday.
Both Jackson, a 6-foot-4 guard from Benedictine High School in Cleveland, and Carter, a 6-4 guard/forward from Champaign, Ill., will be eligible to compete in the fall. They are expected to play major roles immediately, as the Flashes seek replacements for seniors Chris Evans and Randal Holt, who combined to average nearly 31 points and 11 rebounds per game for Kent State in 2012-13.
"(Evans and Holt) were two perimeter players that really did a lot for us. They were our two leading scorers, they led us in steals, they were our leading defensive rebounders," said Senderoff. "We need to replace some of that perimeter scoring and versatility. We knew we had our core of post players coming back, but at the same time, we knew we needed to bring some guys in that we felt could help us on the perimeter, especially in scoring and being able to do multiple things on the floor."
Jackson is quite familiar with the Mid-American Conference. He signed with Central Michigan out of high school and played for the Chippewas during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons before deciding to leave the program following a coaching change a year ago.
Jackson scored 600 points and started in 47 of the 62 games he played during his two seasons in Mount Pleasant.
In Jackson's final season for the Chippewas, Jackson averaged 11.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He finished third in the MAC in steals (1.8), fifth in 3-pointers (2.1) and minutes played (33.1) and 10th in 3-point shooting percentage (.382).
A former AAU teammate of current Kent State junior Mark Henniger, Jackson was named Second Team All-Ohio and shared District Player of the Year honors with teammate Cameron Wright during his senior season at Benedictine. Wright currently plays at Pittsburgh, while another former Benedictine teammate, Nick Harney, is a junior at Akron.
"Derek is sort of proven in this league," said Senderoff. "(Central Michigan) had a coaching change last year, and things didn't work out for him. He contacted us through Randal Holt, actually. He's local, so he's going to have a great support system here at all the games. He's been down numerous times throughout the year because he knows people here. He's been in the rec center playing basketball and just been around a lot."
Carter will bring the versatility Senderoff desires with his ability to play all three spots on the perimeter. He played at Lake Land (Ill.) College this past season, where he received First Team All-Region 24, First Team All-Great Rivers Athletic Conference and Region 24 Freshman of the Year accolades after averaging 17.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game.
"I would describe Devin as a late bloomer or little bit under the radar type guy," Senderoff said. "Devin did not get the recruitment that he probably deserved. He went to Lake Land and played for a guy named Cedric Brown, who's a well-known coach in the area. It's a very good league and he was the Freshman of the Year in that league. He will have three years to play, which is a little unusual for some junior college players, because he qualified (academically) out of high school."
Jackson and Carter are the only two players Kent State has signed for next season thus far. They will join UNC Wilmington transfer K.K. Simmons, a 6-4 sophomore guard who will be eligible after sitting out the 2012-13 season under NCAA transfer rules.
The Flashes do have another scholarship available after freshman forward Earvin Morris Jr. decided to transfer following last season.
"If we bring in another player, that will probably be someone in the frontcourt and someone for the future," said Senderoff. "Somebody we would redshirt or that we would transfer and sit out next year, or who would make us redshirt one of our guys we have coming back."