Apr 16 / Rob

Lou Rowe Put Together a Good Recruiting Class You Guys

The 2016-2017 JMU basketball season was a disappointment. With one of the most experienced rosters in the CAA, JMU struggled mightily out of conference and then finished 8th in the CAA. However, they won a game in the CAA tournament for the first time in years. Perhaps more importantly, they showed no signs of quitting all season even after it was clear they were out of the running. That’s no small thing in our humble opinion.

To be honest, we were as shocked as anyone when JMU hired Lou Rowe. We loved watching him play and consider him one of our all time favorite Dukes. He lacked any head coaching experience and this past year showed that he’s got room to improve on the Xs and Os side of things. However, like we mentioned, his players never quit and they sure seemed to buy into what he was selling. Unfortunately, those things weren’t consistently true during former coach Matt Brady’s time at the helm.

Rowe’s in game coaching will improve with more game reps. In today’s college basketball game, talent trumps pretty much everything anyway. If Rowe can recruit well and build a positive culture for JMU basketball, the Dukes could finally be a year in and year out contender in the CAA. Fortunately, Rowe seems to be doing both those things. His first full recruiting class has us particularly excited.

Darius Banks is the latest signee for the Dukes. He’s a 6’5″ shooting guard out of St. Petersburg, Florida. He was rated as a 3 star recruit by ESPN and Scout and is ranked the 34th best recruit at his position in the country. Banks signed last week and joined four other recruits who signed in the Fall. Along with Banks, Zach Jacobs, Greg Jones, Matt Lewis, and Dwight Wilson make a very intriguing 5 man class.

Jacobs was the Richmond All-Metro Player of the Year after averaging 21 points and 9 boards as a 6’8″ forward for Trinity Episcopal. Jones joined Jacobs on the Richmond All-Metro First Team. He’s a 6’6″ forward who can bang down low and hit from outside. He averaged 18 and 9 and shot 36% from long range for John Marshall. Matt Lewis is another Virginia recruit. He landed on the Washington Post’s All-Met Third Team. The fact that he played for O’Connell High School is gross (Go PVI!). But we can overlook that now that he’s a Duke. Playing at O’Connell means he played in the WCAC, arguably the top high school hoops league in the country. That’s huge. Lewis played against ACC, Big 10, and Big East recruits all year and managed to score in double figures while running the point. He’s a good get and hopefully he’s a sign that JMU will finally open up a WCAC/DMV recruiting pipeline. And finally Dwight Wilson is another Florida recruit. Listed at 6’8″ and 245 lbs, he averaged 16 points and a ridiculous 17 boards a game as a junior. Those rebounding numbers have us drooling.

JMU took some lumps this past season. That was obvious. But ask anyone who ever played with Rowe or knows him well, and they’ll go on and on about how he’s the perfect guy for JMU. They’ll swear he’s got a clear vision of what he wants the JMU basketball program to be. And that he’s got an undeniable ability to recognize talent and sell recruits on that vision. This recruiting class has us thinking they might be right.


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  1. ShadyP / Apr 17 2017

    While I was disappointed with the results last season, I too saw what you saw — this team never quit, always played hard, and seemed to actually enjoy playing with each other. While the results were not there in the W/L column it appeared that Rowe injected some life into the program which has been lacking for years.

    It is no surprise that Rowe recruited Florida an area he knows well, but I absolutely love the fact that he recruited aggressively in state. There is a ton of basketball talent in VA and DMV and JMU has not actively recruited that area in years. It burned me up when I looked at opponents starting lineups and saw how many starters other teams had with players from VA and JMU had none.

    These recruits also appear to have length, a higher degree of raw athleticism, and explosiveness that was severely lacking in our roster. How many times did we miss close shots or have them blocked when they should have been dunks if we had explosive guys. Couple these 5 recruits with Stuckey and Scissom and JMU has improved remarkably from an athletic standpoint. I feel this will give Rowe the type of players that can effectively play the style he wants to have at JMU.

    I think Rowe has 2 more scholarships to use. It sounds like he will try to add a couple of Jucos/transfers to try an further balance the recruiting classes.

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