HARRISONBURG, Va., Nov. 14, 2011 - James Madison men's basketball head coach Matt Brady on Monday announced the signing of a trio of guards to national letters of intent to join the program for the 2012-13 season.
The fall signees include Charles Cooke of Trenton, N.J., Ron Curry of Haddon Township, N.J. and Andre Nation of Plant City, Fla.
Brady commented on the backcourt trio, "We obviously knew that we were going to lose some quality guards in the next two seasons. In this class, we've added three high quality players, students and people. If you look at the combination of current guards that we have, we think they are as good of a combination of guards as anyone in the league. With this next group that we're now signing, we think this has the makeup to be the best backcourt in the CAA for years to come."
Cooke is the tallest of the trio as a 6-5 swing guard out of Trenton Catholic High School in New Jersey. As a junior during the 2010-11 season, he averaged 6.8 points per game as the Iron Mikes went 19-6 and reached the semifinal round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public South B tournament. As a sophomore, he was a member of the Trenton Catholic team that captured the Parochial B state championship over St. Anthony's and won the New Jersey Tournament of Champions over Camden Catholic. ESPN rates Cooke as the 11th best prospect from New Jersey, 68th in his region and 83rd nationally at the small forward position.
"Charles is a guy who burst onto the scene last spring. He plays on a really good high school team that's top 10 in the state of New Jersey. He can play anywhere. He continues to grow. He's a young guy with a bright future and is the complete package as far as also being a good student."
Less than 40 miles away, Ron Curry signed with the Dukes as a 6-3 point guard out of Paul VI High School, the same high school where Brady played in his scholastic days. Curry led the Eagles to the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Non-Public South A tournament before falling 75-53 to Red Bank Catholic. He averaged 15 points, eight assists, five rebounds and three steals per game as a junior. ESPN rates Curry as the seventh best prospect in New Jersey, 53rd in the region and 46th nationally at the point guard position.
"We're excited to have Ron. He's the earliest committed player we've had in my tenure at James Madison. He's a terrific player with a really good family. He's a 6-3 point guard who's become a terrific floor leader and a terrific student. He really embodies everything that we're looking to get here at JMU."
Nation is a 6-4 guard out of Plant City, Fla. and Faith Baptist Christian School. Last year, he averaged 22.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 1.9 steals while leading the Durant High School Cougars to a 21-5 record. He was named MVP of the Tampa Bay Basketball Coaches Association East-West All-Star game while leading the East team with 26 points. The year before he averaged 18.9 points, 2.4 steals and 2.2 blocks.
"He's probably the least known of the three guys but is certainly the most athletic. We think he has a great potential to continue to get better. Last season he averaged almost 23 points per game and really burst onto the scene in July. He had a phenomenal month then and got involved then. He's a guy with great potential."
JMU still has one scholarship available for the spring signing period. The Dukes opened the 2011-12 season on Sunday, Nov. 13 with an 82-73 win over Canisius and will be in the area of two of their new signees on Saturday with a 3 p.m. game at La Salle.