BOWLING GREEN — In the month since taking over as men’s basketball coach at Bowling Green State University, Chris Jans has placed his stamp on the program.
“I tried to prioritize my energy and my time,” Jans said. “I had to hire [assistant] coaches, sign at least four players, schedule 10-plus games, get to know our current players, and get to know BGSU and the local community.
“I tried to balance my time around those things, but the underlying current was recruiting.”
Jans inherited nine scholarship players for last year’s team that went 12-20 overall and 6-12 in Mid-American Conference play: seniors Jehvon Clarke, Anthony Henderson and Richaun Holmes, juniors Josh Gomez, Chauncey Orr, and Spencer Parker, sophomore J.D. Tisdale and freshmen Zack Denny and Garrett Mayleben, both of whom redshirted last season.
At this point, Jans said none of those players are leaving the program.
Thursday he announced the addition of two recruits, guard Jovan Austin and forward Rasheed Worrell, to give BG four newcomers next season.
Austin is a 6-foot-1 point guard who played at Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas, where he was a teammate of another recent BG signee, Delvin Dickerson. Austin averaged 9.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists last season in leading the Dragons to a 26-8 record.
Austin played his freshman season at Angelo State, a Division II school in San Angelo, Texas. He was named Lone Star Conference co-freshman of the year after averaging 12.3 points, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 steals in his first season.
“Jovan is very athletic, possesses great ball skills, will be an elite defender, and is a shot maker,” Jans said. “He has proven to be a championship-caliber player and leader.”
Worrell is from Coker, Ala., and averaged 14.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, and 2.7 assists to lead Sipsey Valley High School to a 22-9 record. He originally signed with Appalachian State in November but was released from that commitment when that school made a coaching change.
“Rasheed Worrell is a special student-athlete who exemplifies the type of student-athlete we will covet at BGSU,” Jans said. “He is a wonderful young man that is very engaging and thoughtful. He oozes potential with his length, frame, skill, and athletic ability.
“Fortunately he possesses the drive and work ethic to turn that potential into productivity.”
Austin and Worrell join David “Pepe” Joseph and Dickerson as the four newcomers to the program.
Bernard “B.J.” Edwards, who signed with Bowling Green under former coach Louis Orr, was released from his letter of intent and has since signed with Jacksonville University in his native Florida.
With the addition of junior college players Austin, Dickerson and Joseph, Bowling Green suddenly has a roster filled with upperclassmen, including six juniors and three seniors.
“I like having older, veteran teams,” Jans said. “I would take a group of 21- and 22-year-olds over a team with 17- and 18-year-olds. The only downside is that we may have to sign more guys every year. But I’m not afraid of recruiting, so I’m not concerned about that.”
Jans said he already has starting working on next year’s recruiting class because of its importance in building a successful long-term base for the program.
“This class was important obviously for the future of the program, especially short-term,” Jans said. “But I think next year’s class will be huge for the long-term success of the program, because of the kids we’re going to have to replace.
“Jehvon Clarke, Richaun Holmes, and Anthony Henderson have all played huge roles in the program. I project all of them to be involved and impact the team next year.”
Jans said signing three junior college players should not lead to the conclusion that he will rely exclusively on junior college transfers.
“In an ideal world, we’d have 13 guys who grew up within driving distance of Bowling Green and were four- and five-year players,” he said. “But it doesn’t always work that way.”
NOTE: Both Orr and Denny, who missed the majority of last season because of injury, have been cleared to begin basketball activities in the near future and should be ready for the start of practice in the fall.