Grizzlies announce talented '09 recruiting class
ALAMOSA, Colo.— Seven players, including two transfers from NCAA Division I schools, and players from as near as the San Luis Valley and from as far as Alaska and Tasmania make up the Adams State College men’s basketball recruiting class that coach Mark Murdock has put together for the upcoming 2009-10 season.
Murdock also returns five players, including three starters, who saw action in a combined 118 games last season and will have the services of Forrest Becker (Albuquerque, N.M.), Kek Biel (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) and Xavier Lewis (San Jose, Calif.) when the Grizzlies take to the court in November. Becker took last season off but has recently rejoined the program while both Biel and Lewis redshirted in 2008-09. Lewis was a mid-year transfer and joined the Grizzly program in January.
This recruiting class is quite a change from Murdock’s last two years as Lewis, a transfer from DeAnza (Calif.) College, is the only junior college transfer in the group.
However, Murdock has picked up two 4-year transfers in Robby Hanzlik (Greenwood Village, Colo.) from the University of Maine and Galand Thaxton (Laramie, Wyo.) of the University of Wyoming, both of whom will have three years of eligibility with the Grizzlies after playing as freshmen last season.
Hanzlik, a 2007 graduate of Mullen High School, helped lead the Mustangs to a 5A Colorado State High School championship as a senior before moving on to New Hampton (N.H.) Prep for the 2007-08 academic year.
Last season, the 6-foot-2 guard was a solid contributor for the Black Bears playing in 21 games while making four starts. While in high school, he averaged 14 points and five rebounds per game earning first team all-conference honors as both a junior after picking up second team accolades as a sophomore. He was also ranked ninth in the state by Colorado Hoops Tracker.
At New Hampton, Hanzlik averaged 18 points, four rebounds and four assists per game helping the Huskies to the quarterfinals of the New England Tournament.
“Robby brings us a skilled combo guard who can score at the basket and hit shots. He is an excellent passer and strong defender with quick hands. His leadership and toughness are what separate him from other players,” Murdock said.
He will be a big key in getting us to the top of the RMAC. He is extremely competitive and his maturity will make him a leader from day one.”
His name is also very well recognized in Colorado basketball circles as Hanzlik’s father Bill played college basketball at Notre Dame and had a stellar 10-year NBA career with the Seattle SuperSonics and the Denver Nuggets.
Thaxton, a walk-on to the Wyoming program last season, played in four games for the Cowboys helping them to the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament an on to the Collegiate Basketball Invitational.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound guard was an all-state and all-conference player for the Laramie High School Plainsmen and helped lead the team to the 4A state championship game as a junior. After averaging 13.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game as a senior, Thaxton then was selected as a Wyoming High School Coaches Association All-Star and scored 22 points in the second game of a 2-game series between high school all-star teams from Wyoming and South Dakota.
“Galand is a lock-down defender and his strength allows him to score at the basket,” Murdock said.
“He is a solid shooter who has a nose for the ball as a rebounder. Like Robby Hanzlik, spending a year at the Division I level has really refined his skills and he brings the intangibles of maturity, a great work ethic and leadership. He is a great fit with our current players and will definitely raise our level of competitiveness,” Murdock added.
Murdock and the Grizzlies will also welcome a foreign-born players to the team in 6-foot-8 forward Jack Osborn, originally of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Osborn does have some more local connections after attending and playing at Denver’s Mullen High School as a foreign exchange student in 2008-09. In that time, he averaged 8.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
While in Australia, Osborn was a 2-year member of the Tasmania State team and was named to the Southern All-Stars team in 2006 before serving as the captain for his high school — Hobart College — in 2007. In Australia, he averaged 14.5 points, 12.4 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game.
“Jack runs the floor like a guard, is very skilled, and a good athlete. He will be a great addition to our interior group and will be able to make a contribution right away,” Murdock said.
“Like Robby Hanzlik he also played for coach Porter Cutrell at Mullen so he has played at a very high level and been coached like a college player. His level of play in Australia, along with him being a year older than most freshmen, gives him a great foundation for the next four years. He is a very good student who handles himself with poise at all times.”
The recruiting class also includes three other high school seniors, including the state of Alaska’s top player Colton Lauwers, the Colorado Springs Gazette‘s Big School Player of the Year Nick Fox and Arby’s All-Star Andrew Price of Sargent High School, a name very familiar to San Luis Valley High School basketball fans.
Lauwers, a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder guard, led his Diamond High School Lynx team, coached by Rob Galosich, to a 4A Alaska State Championship. Joining players such as former Kansas standout Mario Chalmers and Duke players Trajan Langdon and Carlos Boozer, all of whom played in the NBA, to earn the state’s 4A Player of the Year Award, Lauwers averaged 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game last season.
“Colton’s size for a guard allows him to play and guard multiple positions. Colton is very skilled and that combined with his size make him a very difficult matchup at the Division II level,” Murdock said.
“He is a winner and has performed his best at the highest level. He is a good student who is very involved in mentoring elementary school kids. He comes from a great family in which both parents and both of his brothers are all involved in athletics.”
Fox will come to Adams State after a stellar career at Sand Creek High School, where he finished the 2008-09 season as the second leading scorer in 5A basketball averaging 22.6 points per game. Also the state’s leading rebounder at 12 caroms per game, he was rated as the 14th best player in Colorado according to the Rocky Mountain Hoop Report and received honorable mention all-state honors.
He was also voted as the 5A Metro Player of the Year by the league’s coaches before receiving the Gazette’s honor.
“Nick has gained a reputation as fierce competitor who really battles every minute he is on the floor. He is very skilled with his back to the basket but also stepped out and hit many shots from the 3-point line this year. He fits our system perfectly and will be a fixture in our program for the next four years. He is a student who is committed in the classroom and is a class act off the floor,” Murdock commented.
Price, a 6-foot-5 forward, inked with the Grizzlies during the early signing period and then led the Sargent Farmers to the Elite Eight of the 2A state basketball tournament and was an honorable mention all-state and Arby’s All-Star game selection. As one of the most dominant players in the San Luis Valley, he averaged 13 points and seven rebounds per game for coach Jim Ehrlich.
“We are excited to have Andrew and know that he will develop into a very good college player. He has played much of his career with his back to the basket but also has the ability to step to the perimeter,” Murdock said.
“He has also had four coaches in four years so being in a stable program year round should really allow his development to accelerate quickly. He is a good athlete and with his size should make the transition to the college level very well. He comes from a great family and will be a crowd favorite in the San Luis Valley.”
Lewis, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound guard, played for coach Jason Damjanovic at DeAnza after an earlier stint at San Jose City College. As a senior at Gunderson High School, he averaged 22 points, four rebounds and four assists per game for the Grizzlies en-route to first team all-conference and honorable mention all-section honors.
“Xavier is a physically overpowering guard who can hit shots and really get to the rim. He rebounds like a big man and his experience as a lead guard will be really key to our success,” Murdock said.
Becker, a 6-foot-4 guard and forward, played in 20 games during the Grizzlies’ 2007-08 season, Murdock’s first at the helm. The Grizzlies won a NCAA Division II era (1992-93/Present) school-record 18 games that year.
“Forrest is a pure shooter but he can also score around the rim. He is a very skilled post player and has a great basketball IQ. We are excited that he has decided to return for his senior year,” Murdock said.