Mesa men’s hoops team adds 5 players

The Colorado Mesa University men’s basketball team added one point guard, one post player and three wing players in its 2012 recruiting class.

“I’m pretty excited about this group,” associate head coach Andy Shantz said. “We’ll miss the three seniors, but that’s the nature of the beast.”

The class features four freshman and one junior college transfer.

Two new Mavericks are 6-foot-2 guards from high schools on the Western Slope, Kane Gunther (Palisade) and Jake Ames (Delta).

Gunther was a three-time all-conference player and the Western Slope League player of the year last season for the Bulldogs. He averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and five assists per game. Ames was a two-time all-conference pick, leading the Panthers to the league title and averaging a league-leading 19 points per game.

“They are athletic,” Shantz said of Ames and Gunther. “Jake shoots it well. Kane had to play out of position all year. Both of them are fantastic students. Their work ethic is off the charts. If you have those things, and want to be there, you can be successful.”

Ames likely will play off-guard with his shooting ability, but Shantz said Gunther could play several positions.

“It’s hard to tell with Kane,” Shantz said. “For Kane, we’ll have to decide what will be a more natural position for him. It’s hard to tell yet.

“We don’t like to pigeonhole the kids. It’s a good chance they’ll redshirt for us. That will give them time to develop and mature.”

Colorado Mesa landed Cherry Creek graduate Nick Guana, who turned down football scholarship offers to kick at Division I schools such as Colorado and Nebraska. The 6-foot point guard was an all-state honorable-mention pick. He averaged 10 points and four assists per game.

Mesa signed 6-8 post player Ryan Stephan of Lakewood in November.

“Point guards and posts are hard to find,” Shantz said. “There are a lot between 6-0 and 6-4 that can play. Those are easier to find. The point-guard position is such a natural-instinct position. I think we got that in Nick. He’s a great athlete. He was getting recruited all over the country as a kicker, but he wants to play basketball.”

Junior college transfer Paul Walter should play immediately for the Mavericks.

The 6-3 wing was a Northwest Athletic Association Community College first-team selection last season for Clackamas (Ore.) Community College and made the league’s all-freshman team and all-defensive team. He averaged 17.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, three assists and two steals per game.

“(Walter) is a real good defensive player,” Shantz said. “You’ve got to do that no matter what. He had a good offensive year for them, too. He had positive offensive numbers. We expect him to be in the mix right away and fight for a starting spot.”

Walter’s dad, Paul Walter Sr., was an all-conference tight end for the Mavericks in the mid-1980s.

“He was an easy sell,” Shantz said. “His dad’s been recruiting him for 20 years.”


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