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Kent State's men's basketball program found a unique player to fill a critical void in Craig Brown.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound wing from Miami recently agreed to join the Golden Flashes as a transfer after playing for Rutgers last season. He averaged 3.6 points and 2.5 rebounds as a junior for the Scarlet Knights in 2013-14, and will be eligible to play for Kent State immediately since he will earn his degree this summer.
"This is a little bit of new territory for us in that he will be our first fifth-year transfer," said fourth-year KSU coach Rob Senderoff. "Craig's done really well in college academically, which has given him the opportunity to finish school with eligibility left. We're excited that he's gonna be here."
Brown joined Rutgers as a transfer from Broward College in Florida.
He scored 17 points in a conference game against national powerhouse Louisville, but saw his minutes dwindle toward the end of the season and wound up averaging just under 15 minutes per game.
"We had recruited Craig when he was in junior college and had really tried hard to get him here," said Senderoff. "At the end of the year when he decided to transfer from Rutgers and we found out that he was going to be able to graduate this summer, we brought him in for a visit. We had an immediate need for a physical, athletic wing."
The Flashes thought they had filled that hole with Deon Edwin, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard who starred at Laramie County Community College in Wyoming last season. But Edwin was not able to secure his academic eligibility for the upcoming season.
"The reason we brought Craig Brown in is that Deon will not be here in the fall. He still needs to finish up some junior college classes," said Senderoff.
Edwin is expected to join Kent State for the 2015-16 season.
In the meantime Brown will compliment a Flashes backcourt that features several experienced shooters by providing physical strength and a drive-first mentality.
"We don't have anybody in the program like him," said Senderoff. "None of the perimeter players we bring back is a post-up wing. All of our perimeter guys except for (5-11 junior) Kellon Thomas, who is a point guard, I would say is a shooter first, driver second. (Brown) is a driver first, shooter second-type guy. He's big and strong, and I think he can guard some of the big, physical wings in our league. Last year when you look at our roster, with Bryson Pope not coming back because of academic issues, we really lacked a physical wing. I think at times we got exposed, whether it be rebounding or (opponents) getting to the free-throw line. We really wanted to make sure that we had somebody like that this year."
While Division I transfers normally must sit out a year, Brown will take advantage of the NCAA rule that allows transfers to play immediately if they've earned their degree.
"We felt like it would be a really good fit for us and for him to have this opportunity to continue playing at Kent and to work on his master's degree," said Senderoff. "We're excited that he's gonna be here. Wish we was here this summer, but he's finishing up some of his degree requirements at Rutgers. We can't wait to get him here in the fall. We're real excited about what he'll bring to our program this coming year."
ROSTER TAKES SHAPE
Brown is one of six newcomers who will play for the Flashes in 2014-15 along with sophomore forward Jimmy Hall (Hofstra) and senior center Blake Vedder (Indiana, Pa.), who will be eligible after sitting out last season as transfers.
Also joining the program are Gary Akbar, a 6-5 swingman who played at San Jacinto junior college in California last year; Marvin Jones, a 6-10 forward who played at Highland Community College in Illinois last winter; and Raasean Davis, a 6-8 power forward who wrapped up his prep career at Paulding County High School in Georgia in 2013-14.
"Davis and Akbar are on campus now working out and taking classes," said Senderoff. "Davis came in weighing 270 pounds."
The Flashes also signed wing Rosel Hurley out of Shaker Heights High School last November, but he will not play for the team this season.
"Rosel's gonna go to prep school next year," said Senderoff. "We're in the process of helping him and his family figure out the best situation for him."
Hurley is expected to join the Kent State program for the 2015-16 season.
Xavier Pollard, a 6-3 shooting guard who led the University of Maine in scoring at 14.7 points per game last year, has also joined the Flashes program but must sit out the upcoming season as a transfer. He will have one year of eligibility remaining.
Kent State has also received a verbal commitment from Devon Andrews, a 6-5 forward who will play his senior season at Lorain High School this winter.
So the Flashes will lose five seniors after the 2014-15 season, and have four potential additions already in place in Edwin, Hurley, Pollard and Andrews.
Kent State will open the 2014-15 season Nov. 15 at Youngstown State.
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