Coach Tod Kowalczyk has gone back to the transfer well to stock his University of Toledo basketball roster.
The latest acquisition is small forward Dre Applewhite, a Memphis native who spent the past year and a half at Mississippi State.
Applewhite (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) will report to UT this weekend and begin classes next week. He’ll start playing in games next December, at which time Applewhite will be a redshirt sophomore.
Three of UT’s top four scorers began their career elsewhere, a sales pitch the Rockets used to secure their latest import.
Applewhite, who said “things just didn’t work out” at Mississippi State, visited Toledo over the weekend and was pleasantly surprised by a season-high 6,189 fans showing up for a win over Central Michigan. Hosting Applewhite was junior guard Justin Drummond, himself a transfer flourishing in his first year with the Rockets after spending two seasons at Loyola (Md.).
Drummond and Ohio State defection J.D. Weatherspoon have keyed a breakthrough season for the Rockets, each averaging in double figures scoring and starting every game in a 13-2 start.
“That played a huge part,” Applewhite said. “Drum was my guy. We just connected instantly. He told me how Coach K is and how he fit as a transfer and how coach let’s them play their games. I fell in love with that.”
Senior forwards Rian Pearson and Matt Smith also started their careers elsewhere, playing their freshman seasons at Wisconsin-Green Bay before following Kowalczyk to Toledo. Applewhite, who is allowed to practice before he is eligible to play, is in line to compete next year for the small forward spot manned by Pearson.
"We’re extremely excited to welcome Andre Applewhite to our program," Kowalczyk said. "I think he’s a very versatile player that’s going to add to the culture we have established right now."
Like Drummond — the sixth man of the year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference — Applewhite was not stuck at the end of the bench. He started the six games leading up to his Dec. 30 departure and averaged 5.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in 17.8 minutes. He attempted all but nine of his 41 field goal tries from inside the arc, meaning he does not appear to be the marksman Toledo’s offense is lacking this season.
A former three-star recruit, Applewhite lost his freshman season to an ACL injury and redshirted. He chose MSU over Western Kentucky and Arkansas State.
As a senior he led Memphis’ Central High School to the 3A state title game, averaging 21.3 points and 11.1 rebounds.
Tasked with recruiting Applewhite to Toledo was Rockets assistant Jordan Mincy, himself a Memphis native.
With Applewhite and Florida guard Stuckey Mosley in the fold, Toledo’s scholarship allotment for next year is down to one.
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