In one fell swoop, Newman men’s basketball coach Mark Potter may have turned his team into a Heartland Conference contender next season.
The Jets signed two Division I players and picked up a commitment from another, all with Wichita ties, on Monday and Tuesday.
Denver guard Jalen Love and Montana guard Daniel Nwosu signed Monday. Missouri State forward Gavin Thurman said Tuesday night he had committed to play for the Jets and was going to fax his letter of intent to the school on Wednesday morning.
“We went after (Love and Nwosu) as soon as we found out they were transferring,” Potter said. “A lot of the credit needs to go to (Newman assistant coach) R.J. Allen, because he worked tirelessly on this. We think it really changes the dynamic of our team for next season.”
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Potter can’t comment on Thurman until he receives his letter of intent.
“With Gavin leaving and with me leaving, we knew we wanted to try and find a way to play together,” Love said. “I’m excited to come home and play in front of friends and family. It’s a big deal for me for them to be able to come and watch me play.”
Thurman, 6-foot-7, played high school basketball at Southeast and Heights and helped Kansas forward Perry Ellis lead the Falcons to a Class 6A title in 2012. He averaged six points in three years with the Bears and announced he was leaving the team last month. He has one year of eligibility remaining.
“Just growing up in Wichita, it’s a place I love and I think it will be fun for my family to get to come to all of my home games,” Thurman said. “For me, distance was a big deal and I was happy with the type of coach (Potter) is and how he runs his program.”
Love, 6-5, played at East and started 24 games for Denver this season, averaging 7.0 points, 2.7 assists and 2.2 rebounds. He averaged 9.0 points and started all 31 games in 2013-2014 and was Denver’s Most Valuable Freshman in 2012-2013. He also has one year of eligibility remaining.
He decided to transfer after a falling out with Denver coach Joe Scott. Love also considered Emporia State and Fort Hays State.
“We just didn’t see eye to eye on some things,” Love said. “But I wish (Scott) and the team the best in the future. No bad blood on my part.”
Nwosu, 6-2, played his senior season at Sunrise Christian Academy, one season at Casper College and one season at Montana.
Newman needed guard help after All-Heartland guard and leading scorer Reggie Baker (21.0 points) announced earlier this month he was transferring to Savannah State for his senior season. The Jets also needed help in the post with the graduation of leading rebounder Jeremy Espinoza (15.3 points and 6.1 rebounds), an honorable mention All-Heartland pick.
Newman went 15-11 last season and finished seventh place in the Heartland. Potter, who just completed his 17th season, led the Jets to their first NCAA Division II Tournament appearance in 2013.