MACON, Ga. (MERCER RELEASE) – As the Mercer basketball program begins its final year with the 2014 class of seven seniors, head coach Bob Hoffman made the first steps in reloading his roster with the signing of five recruits on Wednesday.
Stephon Jelks , Tyre Moore, Jestin Lewis, Niklas Ney, and Demetre Rivers comprise the 2013 signing class as announced by Hoffman. Jelks, Moore, Rivers and Ney will arrive next fall out of high school with four years of eligibility while Lewis is a junior college transfer with two years of eligibility.
"We understood going in that this would be a big class for us," Hoffman said. "Our current class of seven seniors is special and it will be tough to replace them, but we're fired up and excited about the strengths these men bring to our team."
Jelks is a six-foot-five combo forward out of Marietta, Ga. who's entering his final season at North Cobb Christian School. A two-time All-Region and two-time All-State performer, Jelks is coming off a season in which he averaged 11 points and eight rebounds per game while shooting 44% from the floor and 33% from three-point range.
"Stephon is an energy guy," Hoffman said. "If we can get everyone playing as hard as he does, we'll be in a good spot. He can play multiple positions, he's a winner and it's going to be fun to watch him mature in the days ahead."
Moore is a six-foot four prospect out of Academic Magnet High School in Charleston, South Carolina where he's averaged 21.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. This year, Moore was named a 2013-14 Preseason SCBCA Top-5 AA Senior Player after landing a Class AA All-State selection as a junior.
Moore was also named Class AA All-Region in each of the last two years and finished last season as the leading scorer in the Low Country.
"Tyre is an amazing shooter who works tirelessly at his game," Hoffman said. "He's going to be a great asset for us in the sense that he can stretch defenses and has a pure stroke. He's a talented man in every aspect of his skill set."
Lewis will come to Mercer after a two-year stop at Wallace State Community College, where he averaged a team-high 17.1 points per game and ranked second on the team in assists as a freshman. For his efforts, Lewis earned second team All-Region nod and a first team All-ACCC North Division selections a year ago.
"Jestin will be the catalyst for this whole class in that he'll have great experience right away," Hoffman. "He can take it off the bounce and shoot threes. He's a fantastic player who's going to fit in well with our system."
Ney is a six-foot-10 recruit by way of Berlin, Germany who is set to graduate from high school at Schul-und Leistungssportzentrum Berlin this year. While playing for the Alba Berlin basketball club, Ney averaged 14.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocked shots per game.
In 2011, Ney competed for Germany in the U16 European Championship and averaged 7.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per outing. More recently, Ney was named a Nachwuchs Basketball Bundesliga (NBBL) All-star selection in January 2013.
"Niklas is a big time post player who we're really excited about signing," Hoffman said. "He's played in good leagues and had opportunities to compete on the national level. His skill set is good and he rebounds at a high level, which will be important for us next year."
Rivers is set to join Mercer after his final year at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, S.C. At Stratford, six-foot-seven Rivers averaged 18.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and a block per game while shooting 48% from the field, 33% from three point range and 79% from the free throw line.
The 2013-14 Preseason SCBCA Top-5 AAAA Senior Player was picked up Class AAAA South Carolina All-State honors last year a is a two-time All-Region selection.
"Demetre is long, can get to the rim and shoots threes at a high level," Hoffman said. "As he grows, matures, and gets stronger he's going to be a load. He's very versatile and will be a scoring threat from the beginning."
"Together, we look for this group to continue the tradition we have built in this program," Hoffman said. "They are sharp young men with high character."
Hoffman will rely on the class to make an immediate impact after losing the current crop of seven seniors to graduation. Next year's roster figures to feature two seniors, five juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen.