Addressing the primary need to replace three senior frontcourt players and enhance its inside presence on both ends of the court, the San Jose State University men's basketball team signed its second 7-footer in school history and a 6-foot-11 junior college prospect.
Head coach George Nessman made the announcement that 7-foot-1 Mike VanKirk, a 2011 graduate of Paraclete High in Lancaster, Calif., and 6-foot-11 Alex Brown of John A. Logan College each signed a National Letter-of-Intent to enroll at the university in the fall 2012 semester and become members of the Spartan men's basketball team.
"We have added significantly to our roster's size and length. We also believe given the relative skill sets of Mike and Alex we would have the option of playing them at same time or either one with our returning post players in a 'Twin Towers' alignment," says the San Jose State coach about VanKirk and Brown.
1st 7-FOOT SPARTAN SINCE 1992
VanKirk spent the 2012 season playing for La Jolla (Calif.) Prep. As a senior at Paraclete High, VanKirk averaged 9.7 points and 5.2 blocks per game for his 2010-11 team that won the Delphic League championship and advanced to the second round of the C.I.F. Division IV Southern Section playoffs. Reportedly, Cleveland State, Central Michigan, Northern Arizona, Evansville, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Seattle University, Missouri State and Jacksonville were among the schools that made a scholarship offer to San Jose State's newest center candidate.
"Mike brings a new dynamic to our program. Mike is a 'big' who plays big and uses his length to his advantage. He has a solid skill set and is a willing competitor. He is an excellent young man who, as he progresses, has a chance to be a special player. Mike has a solid work ethic and will be able to compete for minutes right away on our team. We are very pleased Mike is now a Spartan," Nessman says of the first 7-footer in the program since the 1992 season.
6-FOOT-11 & POSSIBLY STILL GROWING
Brown is the second John A. Logan player to sign with San Jose State during the 2012 spring signing period. One of five double-figure scorers on last season's John A. Logan team, he averaged 10.5 points and was second on the team in rebounding with a 7.0 average. He was credited with 113 blocked shots in his two seasons of junior college basketball.
"Alex is a personable and engaging young person who is a fantastic fit for our program. He played in a successful and demanding JC program at John Logan so he is well prepared," states the Spartans' coach. "Alex is an exceptional athlete with length and quickness. He can run, rebound and is a disruptive defensive presence. Alex plays well above the rim and can finish with flourish. We are convinced Alex can make a significant contribution to our program."
The graduate of Herrin (Ill.) High was 6-foot-7 tall when he signed with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as a high school senior, but opted to enroll at John A. Logan College. During the recent recruiting period, reportedly, he received scholarship offers from Evansville and Missouri State and was getting considerable attention from Arkansas.
FOUR NOW SIGNED IN THE SPRING
VanKirk and Brown join 6-foot-4 guard Xavier Jones from John A. Logan College and 6-foot-6 forward Louis Garrett from Salt Lake Community College as 2012 spring signees. And, 6-foot-9 junior-to-be Chris Cunningham, who played his first two seasons at Santa Clara University, will join the team for the 2012-13 season.