The national media doesn’t dwell on the recruiting success of NAIA basketball as it does with the NCAA. But if rating recruiting classes was a practice, the 2011-2012 class of the St. Catharine College Patriots would have to draw Top 10 acclaim.
Head coach J.T. Burton and his staff, fresh off a national tournament appearance in the second year of eligibility in the NAIA, has traveled the nation to restock the Patriot roster with quality players. And that effort has already brought a quintet of quality signees including the nation’s leading scorer in junior college last season.
“We are happy with the way recruiting has gone so far,” said Burton whose team turned in a 22-9 record last season. “But that is just the beginning. People think that we can get back to Kansas City but that is not an easy thing to do.”
One recruit that will help the Patriots’ chances for a return trip to the national tournament is shooting guard Omar Skinner from Salem Community College in New Jersey. The 6-3, 190 pound native of Philadelphia, averaged 26 points, 11 rebounds and four assists last year at Salem. Skinner scored 40 points in consecutive games last season for the Oaks.
Also coming to St. Catharine from Salem will be point guard Dominique Roy who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds last season. Both Skinner and Roy were named first team All Garden State Athletic Conference as well as all region.
Joining those two point guards will be Fateen Belfield from Essex Community College in New Jersey. Burton said the 6-8 New Jersey native will be at the four position for the Patriots. Belfield also was first team all-region and all-conference last season and recorded 29 double-doubles in his two years at Essex.
Raafiq Carnegie, from Raritan Community College in New Jersey, and Keyon Milliner, from Wabash Valley in Indiana round out the recruiting class landed thus far for the 2011-12 Patriots. “”Milliner had offers from Purdue and Butler but tore his ACL and they kind of backed off on him,” said Burton. “Both of them are talented point guards.”
The Patriots are looking to replace the scoring punch of seniors Ervin Williams and Xavier Keeling who averaged 13 and 12 points respectively last season. Williams also led the team in rebounding with eight a game. “We still would like to add a couple bigs to have the strength and depth we need inside for the tough schedule that we play, both in and outside the conference,” concluded Burton.