Newcomers include a pair of letter of intent signees, a transfer and a second high school guard
Fresh off a NCAA Tournament appearance, Eastern Washington University men’s basketball coach Jim Hayford has bolstered his roster for the 2015-16 season with the addition of four players, including a pair who signed letters of intent to attend EWU.
Guard Ty Gibson from Issaquah (Wash.) High School and forward Enrico “Rico” Nuno from Diablo Valley College in California signed with the Eagles. Nuno is a 2014 graduate of Half Moon Bay (Calif.) High School and will be a sophomore next season at EWU.
Australian forward Geremy McKay will transfer to EWU from the University of Albany, where he redshirted the 2014-15 season. He is from Melbourne, Australia – home to a pair current Eagles Venky Jois and Felix Von Hofe and one early signee – and will sit out next season because of NCAA transfer rules.
Guard Grant Gibb from Mark Morris High School in Longview., Wash., will also join the Eagle program. He did not sign a letter of intent, but has been admitted and has confirmed his acceptance to attend EWU.
“I believe we are putting together a team that will once again compete for a Big Sky Championship,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford, whose team will return six letterwinners from last year’s team which finished 26-9.” We have added some very talented players last fall and this spring. Venky Jois and Felix Von Hofe are doing a great job as team captains in leading our team. We will have tremendous team chemistry and enhanced depth throughout the roster. It is really enjoyable working with such great guys.”
Eastern shared the 2014-15 Big Sky Conference regular season title – its third in school history – then went on to win the Big Sky Tournament title. That gave Eastern to its second-ever NCAA Tournament berth, where 13th-seeded EWU fell to No. 4 seed Georgetown 84-74.
More about Next Year’s Eagle Squad . . .
In November, Hayford announced the signing of two players, including 6-foot-2 point guard Michael Wearne (pronounced “Wern”) from Melbourne, Australia. A second signee, 6-7 Jesse Hunt from Sir Francis Drake High School in the California Bay Area, was born in Australia where his father played professional basketball.
With a trio of redshirts also waiting in the wings, newcomers will play a vital role in next year’s team. Eastern had three seniors – two of them starters -- but also lost All-American Tyler Harvey to the NBA and two other letterwinners. Five of those six lost players will graduate from EWU within the next year, Hayford said.
“By the end of this summer Garrett Moon, Parker Kelly, Tyler Harvey, Daniel Hill and Drew Brandon will have all earned their degrees and move into their professions. I am really grateful for their dedication in the classroom and all they have given to the program. We will miss them all.”
Besides Hill, also leaving the program with eligibility remaining will be starter Ognjen Miljkovic. He started 33 of the 34 games he played this season, and averaged 9.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in his 59-game career.
“Ognjen has determined for personal reasons that it is best for him to complete his career at another school,” Hayford said. “We wish him the best and thank him for all he has given to the program. He leaves with my highest recommendation.”
Jois, a first team All-Big Sky Conference selection, will be the lone starter returning in the 2015-16 season. However, the team’s top three subs from last season – Von Hofe, Sir Washington and Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year Bogdan Bliznyuk -- will return. Kyle Reid and 7-foot-1 Frederik Jorg are the other two returning letterwinners.
“I can still see us possibly adding one more player,” added Hayford. “We are really high on the three guys who redshirted this past season. We also think that Bogdan , Felix, Kyle and Sir will have great seasons as they take on more significant roles in the program. We are putting more of an attack defense into our strategy next year and we have adjusted our personnel to do this well.”
Newcomer Bios . . .
Ty Gibson – G, 6-3, 190, Fr., Issaquah, Wash. / Issaquah HS ‘15
Hayford on Gibson: “Ty has had a great high school career. He is an amazing competitor and a winner. I expect him to have a great college career as an Eagle.”
HS: Gibson averaged 23.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game as a senior to earn All-State and KingCo League MVP honors. His All-State accolades included first team recognition from the Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune and Associated Press. The team captain also earned first team All-4A State Tournament recognition after setting State 4A tournament scoring records with 87 points and a 29.0 average to lead the Eagles to a fourth-place trophy. He scored 32 in his final high school game to help Issaquah finish 22-6 for the season. As a junior, he was first team All-KingCo, first team All-4A State Tournament and was also team captain. He helped Issaquah finish third in the state. He also earned first team All-KingCo honors as a sophomore in the first of his three years as team captain. He was honorable mention all-league as a freshman starter, scoring 24 points against Bothell’s Zack LaVine (now with the Minnesota Timberwolves) in the league tournament semifinals en route to a state tournament appearance.
Personal: Has a 3.98 cumulative grade point average at Issaquah, and won the Tutta Bella scholar athlete award.
Geremy McKay – F, 6-7, 225, Fr.-RS, Melbourne, Australia / Caulfield Grammar School ’14 / Univ. of Albany
Hayford on McKay: “Geremy will have to sit out a season, and then we expect him to have a standout career. He is a relentless rebounder and tough-nosed defender. He makes winning plays and is a great teammate.”
Albany: He played in one game against NJIT on Nov. 19, 2014, before redshirting.
HS: He was a three-year forward under Chris Anstey at Caulfield Grammar, which won 81 of 86 games while he was there. He served as team captain from 2011-13, helping Caulfield to back-to-back Associated Public Schools Championships in 2012 and 2013. The school went on to win McDonald’s Cup state championships both seasons. McKay was an All-Associated Public Schools selection in 2012 and 2013. He was a member of the Under-18 Australian National Championship squad in 2013 while playing for Victoria Metro. The team captain averaged 11 points, eight rebounds, three assists and 1 1/2 blocked shots per game. A year later, he helped Victoria Metro win the 2014 Under-20 National Championship. He averaged 18 points and six rebounds per game while making 76 percent of his shots from the field. In addition, he was captain and silver medalist for the Australia Green squad at the Australia Youth Olympic Festival. He was a member of the 2013 Australian under 19 National Team and captain at the Pacific Basketball Championships where he earned recognition on the All-Star 5 squad.
Personal: Born March 9, 1996. Full name is Gerasimos Thomas McKay. He is the son of Son of Theo Poulakis and Leah McKay, and has one brother, Alex.
Enrico "Rico" Nuno - F, 6-8, 250, So.-JC, Half Moon Bay, Calif. / Half Moon Bay HS ’14 / Diablo Valley College
Hayford on Nuno: “Rico is a unique combination of size and skill. He is an outstanding passer and shooter from the perimeter, and does not shy away from interior physical post play.”
Diablo Valley: Was a first team All-Big 8 Conference selection after averaging 10 points and seven rebounds in the 2014-15 season. He had 22 points and 13 rebounds against Sierra College and 19 points and 12 boards versus San Joaquin Delta College.
HS: Nuno was the MVP of the Peninsula Athletic League North and was an All-Metro selection in San Francisco. He averaged 13.2 points and eight rebounds as a senior, helping his team enjoy its best season in school history with a 26-7 record overall and perfect 12-0 league mark.
Personal: Born June 20, 1996. His mother is B, and he has two brothers (J.D. and Tommy) and a sister (Rachel). His hobbies are cooking and hanging out with friends.
*Grant Gibb – G, 6-5, 185, Fr., Longview, Wash. / Mark Morris HS ‘15
*Did not sign a letter of intent, but has been admitted and confirmed his acceptance to attend EWU.
Hayford on Gibb: “Grant can really shoot the ball -- he’s a serious shooter! We will redshirt him the first year to add strength. He is a solid young man who will really add a lot to our program.“
HS: He scored 1,030 points as a three-year starter at Mark Morris, earning Greater St. Helens League honors all three seasons. As a senior, he capped his career by earning first team All-State honors from Associated Press and earning second team 2A All-State Tournament accolades. He averaged 17.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while making 88 percent of his free throws. He made 62 3-pointers and repeated as the GSHL MVP. He was the All-Area Player of the Year as selected by the Longview Daily News, and helped his team to a top eight finish in the state. He was selected to play in the All-State game as well as the Lower Columbia all-star game. In his junior season, Gibb averaged 14.9 points and 4.6 rebounds while making 85 percent from the charity stripe. He was GSHL MVP and earned first team All-Area honors. His team was also the WIAA Academic State Champions, and went on the finish sixth at the State 2A Tournament. He averaged 7.2 points and 3.5 rebounds as a sophomore to earn second team All-GSHL honors. He helped is team finish in the top 16 in the state.