While one All-Ivy standout has departed the East Hill, the men’s basketball team welcomes six new players to the team this season. Junior Ryan Rourke, sophomore Ugo Ihekweazu, and freshmen Khaliq Gant, Jason Canady, Shawn Oliverson, and Will Scott look to contribute on the court this year at several positions.
“With the class, we attacked a lot of different needs that we had. I think, since I’ve been here, we haven’t been able to get a four-man who’s been really skilled in the system that I like to run,” said head coach Steve Donahue. “With Ryan Rourke, we address that. I think that’s a kid with size and athleticism, a very skilled player that can play that position. We have some guards that can compliment our veteran guards, and then we have some size inside to help us rebound.”
While the team returns three starters from a year ago, it loses its starting point guard in All-Ivy first-team selection Ka’Ron Barnes ’04. The new members of the Red are not only high in number, but come highly regarded, as Cornell’s recruiting class was ranked number one in the Ivy League by Hoop Scoop.
Gant, a point guard from Taber Academy in Boston, was ranked as one of the top 200 recruits nationally by Prep Basketball magazine. He has the maturity as a player that will allow him to make an easy transition to the college game.
“He’s been away from home for three years, so he’s more mature than a typical eighteen year-old college freshman,” Donahue said. “He’s a very confident kid, he’s a very mature guy and he understands what his role will be when he’s given it.”
Scott, a guard who committed to Cornell before last season, spent last year playing at Blair Academy in New Jersey. While playing at the Collegiate School, he was the school’s all-time leading scorer, and was an all-state selection as a senior.
“He’s been around real good players at Blair, and was an all-league player at that level. He’s a very good player in terms of his ability to make the transition to college I feel,” Donahue said. Rounding out the guards is Canady, who played his final two seasons of high school ball at the Millbrook School. He was named the team’s most valuable player as a senior and was also selected as the New York Boys’ Club Student-Athlete of the Year in 2004.
Oliverson, a center from Preston, Idaho, was a second-team all state selection as a senior, and helped his team win the state championship.
“He’s going to have to transition to how fast the game is played and playing against bigger guys finally, and the quickness of the game, just playing a lot more basketball against better players than he ever has before,” Donahue said.
Rourke comes to Cornell from Mesa Community College in Arizona, and will contribute at the four spot. He was a National Junior College Athletic Association all-american honorable mention as a sophomore.
“We know needed someone to step in and play the four, and we were looking for that skilled guy with talent. He played at a very high level in junior college ball, and I think he could be one of the top players in the league at his position,” Donahue said.
Ihekweazu is a transfer from Wofford, and will sit out the 2004-05 season because of transfer requirements.
Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach
Sun Staff Writer