Charleston Southern men's basketball has added three signees for the 2013-2014 season, Buccaneers' head coach Barclay Radebaugh announced on Wednesday afternoon.
Mount Tabor High School forward Ty'Quan Bitting (Winston-Salem, N.C.), Arabia Mountain High School wing Bakari Copeland (Lithonia, Ga.), and College of Central Florida forward Will Saunders (London, England) have all signed to play for Radebaugh and the Bucs next season.
Bitting averaged 13.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 6.8 blocks as a senior in leading Mt. Tabor to a North Carolina 4A Final Four appearance, while Copeland poured in 23.5 points per game in leading Dekalb County in the Atlanta area in scoring. Saunders helped his junior college to the NJCAA Division I National Championship averaging 10.2 points per game and shooting over 40 percent from three-point range.
"This is a terrific recruiting class that will add significant talent, size, and ability to our team," Radebaugh said on Wednesday. "I am so excited because we have been true to our system of play and our desire to recruit young men with strong character. We added the South Carolina 4A Player of the Year in Tre' Smith, the Georgia High School Slam Dunk Champion in Bakari Copeland, a 6'8" post who is also a North Carolina First Team All-State selection in Ty'Quan Bitting, and the best shooter from the Junior College National Champions in Will Saunders. We have been blessed. B.J. (McKie), Ahmad (Smith), and Brad (Dobbels) continue to recruit at a high level. They are terrific recruiters who work very well together as a staff. I am thankful for their strong and consistent efforts in recruiting."
The group will try to build on Charleston Southern's best back-to-back seasons in almost three decades and the program's first Big South Regular Season Championship in 26 years. The Bucs went 19-13 last season and reached the NIT for the first time in school history.
CSU's scoring and shooting-rich recruiting class will be leaned upon to replace seniors Mathiang Muo and Jeremy Sexton, who combined for almost 2,000 career points and 340 career three-pointers.
The signees bring the class total to four, joining Tre' Smith, who signed with the Bucs in the fall. Smith was named South Carolina's 4A Mr. Basketball following his senior season.
2013 Charleston Southern Men's Basketball Signees
6-8 - PF/C – Winston-Salem, N.C. - Mount Tabor High School
Bitting averaged 13.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 6.8 blocks as a senior to lead Mt. Tabor to a berth in the North Carolina 4A Final Four. He was the cornerstone of his team's defense averaging almost seven blocks per game. Following his senior season, he was selected to play in the NC/SC Carolinas' All-Star Classic and he has also been selected to play in the NC East/West All-Star game this July in Greensboro, N.C. He earned All-Central 4-A Piedmont honors and was named to the Frank Spencer Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team.
CSU Head Coach Barclay Radebaugh on Bitting:
"Ty'Quan Bitting is simply a winner. He is a 6'8", long, active athlete with a real feel for the game. He is active and has a real knack for rebounding, scoring, and blocking shots. Ty'Quan has a terrific feel and timing for the game. I also love that he played for Andy Muse at Mt. Tabor. Andy is one of the finest coaches in America and his teams compete for the North Carolina state championship every year at the highest level (4A). Ty'Quan will arrive at CSU knowing how to play on both ends of the floor. I am so excited about Ty'Quan's upside and potential. He is going to have a great career at CSU."
Mt. Tabor Head Coach Andy Muse on Bitting:
"I would think Ty'Quan is one of the most improved players in North Carolina from last year," Muse said. "He is a tremendous shot-blocker, and he helped us in terms of putting pressure on teams more than normal because we knew if they got past our front line, he was right there to guard the basket. I think his best basketball is ahead of him. Charleston Southern University is a great fit for Ty'Quan. His defense is ahead of his offense right now, but I can see him being a very good player in the Big South. He is a high character person and his teachers in the classroom have nothing but good things to say about Ty'Quan. He has a seven foot arm-span and has learned over the years to use his long arms to his advantage. Bitting has also been very good this year at rebounding with two hands and keeping the ball up high. I look forward to seeing what his future holds down the road."
6-6 – Wing – Lithonia, Ga.- Arabia Mountain High School
Copeland led Dekalb County, the third largest county in Georgia, in scoring at 23.5 points per game…Averaged 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.0 blocks, and shot 38 percent from three-point range…Named Second Team All-State and First Team All-Region 6-AAAAA…Won the Atlanta Constitution-Journal Slam Dunk Competition…Earned Dekalb Co. Player of the Month honors for January…Was the No. 9 scorer in the state according to MaxPreps…Was named Arabia Mountain High School Team MVP…Bakari is an active member of Rainbow Park Baptist Church and helps lead the church's Open Gym Ministry, an outreach program for young males in the South DeKalb community to participate in this Christ-centered basketball program.
CSU Head Coach Barclay Radebaugh on Copeland:
"Bakari Copeland is also a perfect fit for our style of play. He is a highly-skilled, competitive, 6'6.5" athlete with great versatility. Bakari is a worker. He is passionate about basketball. Bakari had an outstanding senior season at Arabia Mountain. He can put the ball in the basket with the best of them. He is going to fit in perfectly with our up-tempo style and our desire to spread the floor. Bakari has a strong desire to improve. I am thrilled he is joining our program."
Sam Allen, Blue Collar Basketball Recruiting Service, on Copeland:
"Bakari Copeland is a bigger, athletic wing who showed he could score at a high rate his senior year. His ability to finish around and above the rim along with his perimeter shooting could allow him to come in as a freshman and contribute immediately in the Big South".
6-7 – Forward – London, England – College of Central Florida (Ocala, Fla.)
Saunders is a sharpshooter that shot 40.8 percent from three-point range in helping lead his College of Central Florida team to the NJCAA Division I National Championship…He averaged 10.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game.
CSU Head Coach Barclay Radebaugh on Saunders:
"Will Saunders fits our style of play extremely well. He is a gifted shooter with tremendous size and ability. Will allows us to stretch the floor. He is also a winner. Will was a significant contributor on the 2013 Division I NJCAA National Championship team at the College of Central Florida. Head Coach Tim Ryan is one of the finest coaches in the country at any level. National championships do not come easy at any level and Will was a big part of that team that achieved their ultimate prize. Will arrives at CSU well-coached, highly skilled, and understanding how to win. He is a great addition."
College of Central Florida Head Coach Tim Ryan on Saunders:
"Will is one of the best shooters that has ever played here at the College of Central Florida. He is a true leader that gives 100% every day. Will was a huge reason why we won the National Championship. He will be missed."