HARRISONBURG, Va., June 22, 2010 - One scholastic newcomer and four transfers comprise the group of five newcomers for the James Madison men's basketball program as announced by third-year head coach Matt Brady on Tuesday.
"I think it's a tremendously exciting class for JMU basketball," commented Brady. "This is a group that adds playing experience, a tremendous level of talent, maturity, and winning experience."
The class includes junior college teammates in guard James Millen (Cincinnati, Ohio/Shroder Paideia Academy) and forward Rayshawn Goins (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville). Together, they led Cincinnati State Technical and Community College to a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II national runner-up finish. They will be immediately eligible as juniors and will be joined by incoming freshman guard Chad Jackson (Georgetown, Ky./Scott County).
Two other newcomers enter as juniors but will be required to redshirt the 2010-11 season per NCAA rules as Division I transfers. Guard A.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Community School) spent his first two seasons at the University of Wyoming while fellow guard Anthony Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) comes to JMU from the University of Akron. Each will have two years of competition once eligible in 2011-12.
A.J. Davis, Guard, Jr., 6-6, 200, Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Community (Univ. of Wyoming)
"A.J. Davis is as talented of a player as we've brought into the program in our two-plus years as a staff," noted Brady. "He's a guy we recruited out of prep school and didn't get then, but we were able to now when he was looking to leave Wyoming. He's a multidimensional, scoring guy."
Davis was the third-leading scorer for the Cowboys as a sophomore, averaging 10 points over 22 games with 19 starts. He did not appear in the final eight games of the season. As a freshman, he averaged 2.8 points per game with 30 appearances, including three starts. He played scholastically at Linden-McKinley High School in Columbus and averaged 21 points, nine rebounds, and six assists as a senior to claim First Team All-City honors. He then averaged 18 points, five boards, and three assists in one year played at Harmony Community School in Cincinnati prior to Wyoming. Davis is the cousin of JMU redshirt sophomore guard Devon Moore (Columbus, Ohio/Northland). He will redshirt the 2010-11 season according to NCAA transfer regulations and have two years of eligibility remaining.
Rayshawn Goins, Forward, Jr., 6-6, 250, Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville (Cincinnati State)
"Rayshawn Goins comes in as both a highly-celebrated high school and junior college player. He's won everywhere he's been. He took his team to the national junior college finals. He gives us an immediate contributor who will help us match up favorably with any of the front courts in the CAA."
Goins brings a bruising presence to the JMU front line after spending the 2009-10 season at Cincinnati State. He led the Surge to a 24-10 record and a national runner-up finish in the NJCAA Division II national championships. He averaged 18.3 points and 12.5 rebounds in the four postseason games to earn NJCAA All-Tournament honors. For the season, Goins ranked 13th nationally with 22.2 points per game and sixth with 12.4 rebounds per game. As a senior at Glenville High School, Goins averaged 21.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 2.2 assists, and 1.7 steals in 24 games while leading the Tarblooders to a 21-3 record. He was honorable mention All-State Division I. He then averaged 11 points and 6.7 rebounds over 21 games as a freshman at Columbus State Community College before competing with Cincinnati State in his second year.
Chad Jackson, Guard, Fr., 6-4, 185, Georgetown, Ky./Scott County
"Chad Jackson comes to us as one of the finalists for Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky this past season. His team did extremely well all season long. He's a guy we feel very fortunate to have gotten to come to JMU, because he's a guy who had a national reputation as a younger scholastic player. We feel that once he adds a little skill to his game, he has a chance to be as good as any wing in this league."
Jackson is the lone scholastic signee of the five newcomers announced by Brady this week. He averaged 16.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a senior at Scott County High School while leading the Cardinals to a 30-7 record and the semifinals of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association state tournament. That followed a 30-4 campaign as a junior at SCHS. He transferred to Scott County for his final two seasons after beginning his varsity career with Rose Hill Christian School in Ashland, Ky. Jackson was ranked by ESPN as the 96th-best high school shooting guard prospect in the nation.
James Millen, Guard, Jr., 6-3, 175, Cincinnati, Ohio/Shroder Paideia Academy (Cincinnati State)
"James Millen is probably the most interesting of the group, because he's a guy who comes with almost zero reputation, until recently. As a high school player and a junior college player, he just kept getting better and better. We didn't really start recruiting him until the Fall of his last year in junior college. We think he can be as good as any wing in the league. We feel he has all the intangibles and has the skill set to match up favorably at a number of different positions."
Millen comes to JMU alongside his former Cincinnati State teammate, Goins. Like Goins, he earned All-Tournament honors in the NJCAA Division II national tournament after averaging 12.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in four games, including eight points and five boards in the title game loss to Lincoln. Millen finished the season averaging 13.8 points per game while ranking 23rd nationally with 5.6 assists per game and 22nd with 2.6 steals per game. As a freshman with the Surge, he averaged 16.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 2.9 steals, which ranked 15th in the nation. He was the Player of the Year in the Patriot Division of the Southwest Ohio Public League as a senior after averaging 22 points per game with the Jaguars of Shroder Paideia Academy.
Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens, Guard, Jr., 5-9, 170, Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe (Univ. of Akron)
"Humpty Hitchens is the last of the signees and is a guy we knew a lot about as a high school player. He is a former top 100 player in high school by national publications. In two years at Akron, he won a lot of games and was an instrumental part of them going to the NCAA Tournament in 2009. He's one of those guys who plays great in big games. We also really like that he's a tough guy. He was a very good high school football player and excelled at multiple sports. He also brings with him the idea that winning is first and what matters, and he's done a lot of that in his career."
Hitchens, who goes by the nickname Humpty, transfers to JMU from the University of Akron in Ohio. He saw extensive action in his first two seasons with the Zips, appearing in 33 games with 22 starts as a sophomore and averaging 8.5 points per game and leading the team with 91 assists. As a freshman, he was named to the All-Mid-American Conference Freshman Team after appearing in 35 games with 30 starts and averaged 8.8 points per game while again leading the team with 78 assists. An ankle sprain limited him in Akron's MAC Tournament run. He will be the lone JMU player with NCAA Championship experience, having played seven minutes as a freshman for the 13th-seeded Zips in a 77-64 opening-round loss to fourth-seeded Gonzaga in 2009. At Chillicothe High School, he was named First Team All-State in Division II after leading the Cavaliers to a 25-2 record and the state championship. Hitchins scored 24 points in a 70-69 overtime win in the 2008 title game over Toledo Libbey High School, which included current JMU junior Julius Wells. Hitchens averaged 21.7 points, 6.0 assists, and 5.0 rebounds as a senior and amassed 1,753 points in his four-year scholastic career.
JMU does have one remaining scholarship available for next year if the Dukes elect to use it. Brady also anticipates at least two additional non-scholarship players for the Dukes in 2010-11.