University of Arkansas at Monticello head men’s basketball coach Kyle Tolin has announced the signings of nine young men that will join the Weevils starting in the 2015-16 season.
“We are really excited about this year’s recruiting class,” said Tolin. “I have to give credit to (assistant) Coach Cyprien for working extremely hard all year long. We felt we accomplished our three main goals – upgrading our talent, finding good shooters, and finding high character guys that will help build a winning culture. Our four returners have and are continuing to improve, and we are excited about the incoming class to help us head in the right direction.”
UAM’s four returning players are senior All-GAC point guard Richard Benedyth, senior guard Jamal Peterson, senior guard Korbin McClain and redshirt junior guard Nick Gianakoulias.
Vicktor Arnick, a 6-6 forward originally from Dallas, Texas, has signed with UAM after posting double-digit points in 21 games last season at Blinn College. He ended the season with an average of 12.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 48 percent on three-pointers and 76 percent on foul shots.
Arnick was the fourth best three-point shooter in the NJCAA Region 4 last season. He posted a season-high of 29 points with nine rebounds against Coastal Bend College. At Carter High School, Arnick was ranked the No. 56 recruit in the entire state of Texas, the second-ranked small forward in the city of Dallas, was named All-Dallas twice, was the most valuable player of the DFW vs. Tarrant County All-Star Game, and led Carter to the playoffs in 2012 and 2013.
“Vicktor is a very skilled forward,” said Tolin. “He can really shoot the ball and has a knack for scoring… He had a lot of Division I offers, so we are very thrilled and blessed that he decided to come to UAM… We are always glad to get guys from the East Texas Conference. Vicktor has been well-coached at Blinn by Scott Schumacher, so the transition to UAM should be easy.”
Tyler Davis, a 6-5 shooting guard originally from Bakersfield, California, reunites with Coach Tolin after playing his junior season at Oklahoma Baptist University during the 2013-14 season. That year with the Bison, he averaged 9.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and one assist per game, while shooting 39 percent from the three-point arc and beyond.
Davis had a season-high 35 points, featuring nine three-pointers, against Texas Wesleyan in the first round of the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament, and averaged 16.2 points per game during that event. Prior to Oklahoma Baptist, Davis was an all-conference guard at West Hills College in California.
“Tyler can really shoot the basketball,” said Tolin. “I have seen him have some really big games… We are really glad he is coming to UAM. He brings the ability to make shots, which is something we need.”
Brandon England, a 6-0 point guard from North Pulaski High School in Jacksonville, Arkansas, joins the Weevils after averaging 12 points, five rebounds and three assists per game during his senior season. He’s also a member of Arkansas Heat AAU organization.
“Brandon is a very athletic guard,” said Tolin. “He’s a combo guard who has a good mid-range game… He is a very good ball handler, and the thing we like most about Brandon is his competitiveness.”
Trent Jeffries, a 6-4 guard from Gulfport, Mississippi, comes to UAM from Southwest Mississippi Community College, where he averaged 9.5 points, two rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. He was a 90 percent free throw shooter this past year. He had a season-high 23 points with four three-pointers against Mississippi Gulf Coast CC and 22 points with five treys against Co-Lin CC.
This past year, Jeffries was selected to play in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges All-Star Game. He played his freshman season at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
“Trent is a big wing who can really shoot and score in a variety of ways,” said Tolin. “He really got better as his season went along and was well-coached under Thomas Gray… He’s a gym rat, and we are looking forward to big things.”
Victor Haywood, a 6-7 forward from Dallas, comes to UAM after averaging seven points and five rebounds per game as a sophomore at McCook Community College in Nebraska. Haywood played on Texas Southern’s NCAA tournament team during his freshman season.
In high school, Haywood averaged 12.6 points per game and made 34 three-pointers during his senior season at Dallas Carter.
“Victor is a super athlete that can really defend at a high level,” said Tolin. “He’s a good rebounder, protects the rim, runs the floor in transition well and has a high basketball IQ. I think his best basketball is ahead of him.”
Brandon Scott, a 5-10 guard originally from Dallas, comes to UAM after finishing strong at Paris Junior College, where he had at least 10 points in 13 of his team’s last 14 games this past season, including five games at 20 points or better. Overall this past season, he averaged 11.8 points, 2.5 assists and two rebounds per game, while connecting on 40 percent of his three-pointers.
As a freshman, Scott helped PJC to a 26-8 overall record and a berth in the NJCAA National Championship Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas.
“We’ve watched Brandon play numerous times over the past two years, and we’re very fortunate to have him coming to UAM,” said Tolin. “He is very athletic and can really shoot the ball. We always recruit Coach (Chuck) Taylor’s players because they know how to play, have high character, and are disciplined to help you win games… Brandon had offers from several D1s and D2s, but we are elated he chose to join our program here at UAM.”
Evan Sims, a 6-8 forward originally from Houston, Texas, comes to UAM from the University of Louisiana Monroe and Lamar State College. As a sophomore, he helped Lamar State to a 21-11 overall record and finished with an average of 4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while shooting 62.3 percent from the field.
Sims has graduated from ULM and will work on his master’s degree while attending UAM.
“Evan is a big strong forward with nice touch around the basket,” said Tolin. “We were very impressed with his drive, as well as his defensive and rebounding skills.”
Mario Urquidi, a 6-5 forward out of Decatur (Ark.) High School, inked with UAM after a highly-decorated prep career in northwest Arkansas. As a senior, he averaged 19 points, 10.1 rebounds, two assists and 2.6 blocks per game, ultimately leading to a nomination for the 2015 McDonald’s All-American Game. He posted an even better season as a junior with averages of 19.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
Throughout his prep career, Urquidi totaled 1,662 points, 986 rebounds and 295 blocked shots.
“Mario has had a stellar high school career at Decatur,” said Tolin. “He’s been well-coached with John Unger, and we are extremely excited that Mario chose to become a Weevil.”
Jerron Washington, a 6-4 combo guard originally out of Memphis, makes the short trip south from UALR, where he played in 22 games and made three starts last season with the Trojans as a junior. He played his sophomore season at Southwest Tennessee Community College, where he totaled a season-high 17 points against Roane State CC. He averaged 6.1 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.
Washington began his collegiate career at Motlow State, where he played in 26 games as a true freshman. At Kirby High School in Memphis, he was First Team All-Defense and First Team All-District after averaging 15 points, three rebounds and two assists per game during his senior season.
“Jerron is a great athlete, and we are so glad to land him here at UAM,” said Tolin. “He’s going to be hard to keep away from the rim… He’s a great defender who plays with a lot of energy and is really hard to guard in transition. He can play multiple positions and guard multiple positions as well.”