Div. I transfer bolsters Mavs’ hoops team

There’s still a big “if” on the Mesa State College men’s basketball roster, but the 2009-10 edition of the Mavericks is starting to take shape.

That “if” is the eligibility of senior forward Justin Ashbaugh, who missed all of last season with torn knee ligaments. He hasn’t heard if his medical redshirt season has been approved, but since the injury happened on the first day of school, associate head coach Andy Shantz is confident Ashbaugh will be back on the court.

Shantz, who is the Mavs’ recruiting coordinator, signed a half-dozen new players who should fit in the program, including a rare senior Division I transfer.

Mike Dominguez, a 6-foot-3 guard from Espanola, N.M., spent two years at Northeastern Community College in Sterling, then transferred to Florida International. After starting 30 games and leading Florida International in minutes played, Dominguez decided Miami wasn’t for him, so he started looking for another school.

As it so happens, his coach in Sterling was Eddie Trenkle, who played at Mesa State. A couple of phone calls later, Dominguez was ready to move to Grand Junction.

“His dad lives in Miami and that’s how he ended up all the way out there. A lot of times you get those players that bounce back because they don’t play a lot. That wasn’t the case with Mike,” Shantz said. “He’s a really good player, really skilled and athletic for this level.

“Miami is just huge and he likes the smaller-town atmosphere.”

He’ll be a senior, but the fact that Dominguez has won at every level made him appealing. He shot 79 percent from the free-throw line and hit 76 shots from the 3-point line last season, averaging 10 points and four rebounds.

The Mavs did find one big man, 6-7 junior Lane Fite, a transfer from Glendale (Ariz.) Community College. Fite averaged 16 points and nine rebounds.

“He’s a big kid and played football in high school, so he’s played bulky before and played slimmed down before,” Shantz said. “He’s real skilled. Sometimes at this level it’s hard to find big kids that are powerful and strong.

“It’ll be a little bit of a transition for him for the style of play. Glendale got up and down and we’re obviously more half-court, but he’s good. He passes really well and is a good athlete.”

The Mavs also signed Tanner Adams, a 6-5 sophomore forward from Salt Lake who played at Central Wyoming College, averaging 12 points and five rebounds.

“He’s a big, strong kid, 6-5, 225 pounds, and was the best leaper on their team,” Shantz said.

“He can dunk it, is real athletic. He can step out, too, shot a lot of 3s this year. He’ll be a tough matchup in the post.”

Russell Gregory, a 6-3 junior guard, is coming in from Fresno Community College, which went 34-1 this past season. As a sophomore, Gregory shot 42 percent from the 3-point line and averaged 10 points a game in an all-conference effort.

“It’s the same school Adam Wall was from, and you know what you’re getting,” Shantz said.

“They’re tough as nails and they’ve been pushed. It’s the most successful program in California the last 10 years.”

Shantz also added a pair of high school guards, Central’s Clay Kame and Glenwood Springs’ Kevin Screen. Kame is 6-1, Screen 5-10.

“I don’t think Clay has practiced basketball year-round because he’s such a good athlete,” Shantz said. “It’s going to be interesting to see just how good he can be when he practices year-round. He might accelerate quicker than most because he is such a good athlete. Kevin is pretty small, but he competes and he’s a nice player.”

The thing Shantz likes about this group is the options the Mavs will have.

“We’ll have a lot of guys who can shoot the ball and hopefully present some matchup problems,” he said. “We’ll be bigger this year. I think we’ll rebound better and we’ll play bigger and with that still shoot the ball real well.”


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