Trio of big men part of six-man class for CMU men’s hoops team

Andy Shantz said he learned more about coaching last season than any other winter as a head coach, when the Colorado Mesa men’s basketball team struggled to an 8-20 record.

One thing’s for sure — he never wants to go through a season without a post player, especially after having the top post player in the country the year before.

“It’s nice to know we have some reinforcements coming in and a couple of big kids, and hopefully Filip (Nowicki) can be healthy, too, and it will just make us deeper and better at that position,” Shantz said Wednesday when talking about the Mavs’ recruiting class.

That class includes three big men, starting with 6-foot-9 forward Damon Dubots out of Pima Community College (Arizona), who’s a long, lean post player, weighing in at 215 pounds.

The Mavericks also signed Jerome LaNeir, who’s 6-8, 225, out of Lamar Community College, who played at Cherry Creek High School, and Mead High School graduate Alex Sandstrom, who’s 6-7, 185. Sandstrom is more of a face-up player, shooting 48 percent from the 3-point line in high school.

Dubots and LaNeir will team up with Nowicki, the Mavs’ 6-10, 250-pound center from Poland who missed all of last season with a broken foot.

“Damon runs the floor well and played for a really good team at Pima,” Shantz said. “What I like about all three of our posts is they’re all different. That’s a good thing, too, especially matchup-wise. Depending on who we’re playing we can go to some different lineups. (Dubots) is a kid who’s able to play some at the four (forward) and Jerome is a little different; he’s extremely strong, offensive rebounds well and passes well for a big man. He’s one of those kids who will do whatever you want. He’ll provide a lot of depth at that position and bring a lot of toughness, too.”

Shantz wants the Mavericks to get back to being tough in the paint, which can only help the perimeter players.

“Any time your post play is better it makes your perimeter players better,” Shantz said, “and when they hit shots it makes your post players better.”

The Mavs think they’ve found some of those perimeter players who can knock down shots, with Emilio Acedo, a 6-5 sophomore transfer from Pima who made 129 3-pointers last season, shooting 42 percent from behind the arc. Acedo averaged 20 points, six rebounds and five assists his senior year in high school and helped Pima win the NJCAA Division II regional title last season.

Colin Rardin (6-3) from Rock Canyon High School, averaged 13.3 points and three assists a game, making 50 3-pointers, which led the Continental League. The honorable mention all-state guard graduated with a 3.9 GPA and led Rock Canyon to the Colorado state semifinals.

Jeret Schmelling (6-3) averaged 16 points a game playing in Class 6A in Damascus, Oregon, where he was a 4.0 student.

That group joins two earlier signees, guards Kolton Peterson of Lakewood and Brevin Brimble of Doherty.

Only one player opted not to come back next season, Shantz said, guard Tanner Riley.

“I think what we did is have a really good mix,” Shantz said. “We added some really good 3-point shooters. Obviously I don’t know that we’ll be as athletic as we were this year with Kabir (West), Eimer (Lopez) and James (Sylvester), but I think we’ve got some guys who can put the ball in the basket and kids who can keep the defense honest.”


CMU coach Chuck Pipher doubled up on teammates when signing 14 wrestlers for next season, eight from Colorado with plenty of state medals on their resumes.

Fruita Monument’s Daniel Van Hoose (149 pounds) signed in November and placed fourth this past season at state.

Two state champions signed out of Norwood High School, 174-pounder Trenton Armintrout and 165-pounder Hayden Harris, who placed all four years, with a pair of championships.

Those three are just the start of an impressive group of Colorado wrestlers, with three-time state placers Zac Baker (174 pounds) and Zach Garrard (184) from Cheyenne Mountain and four-time placer Jason Romero (165) and two-time placer Nolan Krone (174) of Pomona, along with 2017 state runner-up Hunter Mooring (197) of Pueblo West.

Pipher also got nationally ranked and Utah state champion Brandon Closson (197) from Pleasant Grove High School, and three standouts from Arizona, Cole Bernstein (125), who took third at state, Stone Crooks (133/141), who won a state title this past season, and Dylan Keeney (125), a four-time placer who and 2017 state champion.

Eduardo Penha (133) is transferring from St. Cloud State, where he redshirted last season after placing third at the NJCAA national championships for Northwest College (Wyoming).

William Moss (149) attended Wyoming Seminary School, a college preparatory school in Kingston, Pennsylvania, considered to have one of the top high school wrestling programs in the nation. Moss, from Marietta, Georgia, won a prep national title when he was a 106-pounder.


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