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Published: Wednesday, 4/29/2009

Cross adds another point guard to Rockets' roster

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Gene Cross is taking no chances when it comes to the ball-handling needs for the University of Toledo men's basketball team.

Tuesday the UT coach signed point guard Josh Freelove of North Lauderdale, Fla., to increase the Rockets' 2009-10 recruiting class to seven players.

UT will have four point guards on its roster.

"We led the league in turnovers last year and I refuse to have a team that doesn't handle the ball very well," Cross said. "That had to be addressed and it had to be addressed quickly because we lost so many players on the perimeter."

Freelove, 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, averaged 26.5 points and five assists as a senior at North Broward Prep High School. He was named to the Miami Herald's All-Broward County first team.

"I'm ecstatic about everything that's going on at Toledo," Freelove said. "Coach Cross made me feel I was going to be needed and wanted at the school. I want to bring wins to the team."

Freelove received recent interest from schools such as Nebraska, St. John's, Virginia Commonwealth and Western Michigan. Cross and Freelove had a mutual acquaintance in Deon Thomas, Cross' former teammate at Illinois. Thomas told Cross about Freelove and Cross was impressed by what he saw on film.

"It happened pretty quickly, and I'm glad it did," Cross said. "We were able to hold off some pretty heavy hitters from BCS conference schools."

Cross also signed point guard Neil Watson this spring and has sophomore point guards Larry Bastfield and Clayton Sterling on the roster. Cross said Sterling will probably play more shooting guard next year, and that another recent signee, Malcolm Griffin, can also handle the ball.

"If I'm in a position to play two point guards, I'm going to do it," Cross said.

Freelove's signing indicates there will be a change to the Rockets' roster. Currently UT has seven scholarship players set to return next year, and the addition of seven freshmen would put the Rockets over the NCAA scholarship limit of 13. Cross said that would be resolved in the next few weeks.

"You always have to be prepared for a situation where there may be a medical issue, there could be a grade issue, with an incoming prospect or what have you," Cross said. "We're in the process of working that out."

NOTE: Toledo native Chris Poellnitz, who gave a verbal commitment to play basketball for UT last summer, ended up signing with Central Arkansas earlier this month.

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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