TU signs five basketball players, class increases to nine

Tulsa has signed five new basketball players, two high school seniors and three college transfers. That’s a total of nine new players for Tulsa for the fall.

Joseph Battle and Will Magnay are high school seniors, while Eugene Artison, Curran Scott and Jaleel Wheeler are transfer students.

Artison is a freshman at The College of Southern Idaho, and will have three years of eligibility remaining. Wheeler is a sophomore at Kilgore College in Texas and will have two year of eligibility. Scott is a transfer from The University of Charlotte, who will sit out the 2016-17 season and have three years of eligibility remaining.

“This is certainly an exciting day for our program and the culmination of tireless evaluation and relationship development by our staff,” said TU coach Frank Haith said. When we got to Tulsa in the spring of 2014 we knew we would have eight or nine scholarships to fill and that we needed to balance our classes out with high-character, high-quality student-athletes that fit our university’s mission. I feel like we were able to do that. Each of these young men, along with Travis Atson, Corey Henderson, Martins Igbanu and Lawson Korita who we signed in the fall, fill significant needs for us and fit our program characteristics of having great character, skill and toughness. I am excited about the future of Tulsa basketball.”

The Tulsa’s 2016-17 class includes two juniors, two sophomores and five freshmen. The nine-man signing class is the largest since Tubby Smith’s first class in 1991, and Nolan Richardson’s first class in 1980 also included nine newcomers.

Artison is a 6-9 forward from Seattle, Washington, who averaged 14.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game this season at The College of Southern Idaho. He played in nine games before an injury ended his season.

As a senior at Franklin High School in Seattle, Artison averaged 18.3 points, 1.6 blocks and 1.0 assists per game. He was named one of the top-50 high school players in the state of Washington by MaxPreps, and was rated as a three-star prospect out of high school by Scout.com.

“Eugene is a dynamic forward that has the ability to play in transition, score on the block or spot up on the perimeter,” said Haith. “At 6-9, Eugene can create some matchup problems for opponents and we are excited about that added versatility in our program. Eugene has worked hard rehabilitating from an injury last year, but being just a sophomore next season, we are very excited about his future at Tulsa as his best basketball is ahead of him.”

Artison spent one year at Fresno State in 2014-15, where he redshirted, before transferring to Southern Idaho. He will have three years of eligibility at TU.

“Eugene has a chance to be really, really good,” said College of Southern Idaho coach Jared Phay. “He is athletic and skilled. He was having a good season and we were expecting big things from him. I think his upside is really, really high. When I say upside, I think he has a chance to be in the NBA. The sky is the limit with him. He is a really good kid, and he was our biggest cheerleader in every practice and every game. I felt like he wanted to win as badly as anybody, even though he couldn’t play. He is a just a really good teammate and really supportive in that way.”

Battle, a 6-3 guard from Abbeville, South Carolina, was named the 2015-16 Gatorade Men’s Basketball Player of the Year, as well as Mr. Basketball for the state of South Carolina. He averaged 31 points, seven rebounds and three steals as a senior at Abbeville High School, earning Class 2A Player of the Year honors, and leading the Panthers to the Class 2A state championship.

He scored 32 points in the state title game. He averaged 23 points and six rebounds as a junior, and shot better than 50 percent from the field in each of his last two years. He averaged 23 points, 6.6 rebounds and two steals per game for his career.

“Joseph is a winner,” Haith said. “Not many seniors across the country can claim state titles as a point guard and as a quarterback in the same year, but Joseph accomplished that last season. He is a tremendous competitor and leader. He has incredible character and will do whatever it takes to make his teammates better. From a point guard standpoint Joseph has great intangibles and we are excited to welcome him into our family.”

Battle set a school record, scoring more than 1,800 points during his career at Abbeville High. He was the state’s leading scorer as a senior, and also earned Class 2A Region 2 Player of the Year honors. Also a prolific dual-threat quarterback, Battle led AHS to the 2015 Class 2A football state title, accounting for six touchdowns in the championship game. He was the state’s football Offensive Player of the Year.

“Joseph is a great young man, an outstanding student, well-liked in the community, and a hard worker in the classroom and on the court,” Abbeville High School coach Doug Belcher said. “He is a leader on the court, and leads by example in everything he does. He can play the point, and he can play the two-guard. He loves the game. In that state championship game, he was phenomenal. He scored inside, he scored outside, driving – whatever it took, he did it. He is a tough kid, an all-around student-athlete and well liked by his teammates. Tulsa is getting an outstanding young man.”

Magnay is a 6-10 forward from the Australian Institute of Sports in Brisbane, Australia. At the U20 Australian Junior Championships in February, he was named the top defensive player and a first-team all-tournament selection. An anchor on defense, he led all rebounders in the tournament, and averaged 9.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game. AIS is the same school that was attended by current NBA players Andrew Bogut, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills.

“We love Will’s size and physicality. Recruiting and signing a true center was very important in this class and we are excited about what Will brings to our program,” said Haith. “He has an opportunity to make an impact defensively for us very early in his career, and he has a good skill level that will allow him to really develop on the offensive end of the court. Much like the rest of this class, we really like Will’s makeup as a young man. He has great character and a passion for winning. We are excited to have him join our program.”

Scott, a 6-4 guard from Edmond, Oklahoma, spent last season at The University of Charlotte, where he scored in double figures in 17 games, including five games with at least 20 points. He averaged 10.5 points and shot 45 percent from the field, including 44 percent on 3-pointers, as a freshman at Charlotte. A product of Memorial High School in Edmond, Scott averaged 21.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 50 percent from the field, earning Oklahoma all-state honors as a senior.

“We are excited to add someone of Curran’s skill level and experience to this recruiting class,” Haith said. “Curran was one of the top freshmen in Conference USA last season at Charlotte and has the ability to score the basketball at multiple levels, whether it’s attacking the rim, getting to the foul line or from the perimeter. Being an Oklahoma native, our fans will have great familiarity with Curran. He was a tremendous player in Edmond throughout his high school career and we feel fortunate to have him back in our state after a great start to his Division I career.”

Scott was ranked among the top-150 players in the nation by MaxPreps and Future150.com coming out of high school. He totaled more than 1,500 points in his high school career that included three years at Edmond Santa Fe High School, and he earned three all-district honors and two first-team all-conference honors. Scott graduated from Memorial High School in Edmond, the high school alma mater of former Tulsa guard James Woodard.

“Curran is a very driven, dynamic offensive player, and a prolific scorer,” said Edmond Memorial High School coach Shane Cowherd. “He has a real knack for getting to the free throw line, and getting extra possessions as a result of being able to draw contact. He is tenacious about his personal improvement, and I think what makes him special is that he has a motor and a drive to win and to be successful, unlike many kids that I’ve ever coached before. You’re going to see a player that is not going to take days off from practice, and will drive his teammates to get better because he wants to get better. He is a leader with his actions on the court.”

Wheeler is a 6-3 guard from Newark, New Jersey, who has played two years at Kilgore College in Texas. He earned 2016 NJCAA All-America honorable mention and All-Region XIV first-team honors. He averaged 22.3 points and 2.5 assists per game this season. He shot 51 percent from the field, including .395 on 3-pointers, and 81 percent on free throws.

“Jaleel adds an element of maturity to our incoming class. Being a junior college transfer, he is a little older and has a better understanding of what it will take to compete daily at this level,” Haith said. “As a player, we really like Jaleel’s overall makeup. He was one of the top junior college players in the country last season, and attacks his opponent relentlessly on the offensive end. Jaleel fills a big void for us with the graduation of Shaquille (Harrison) and James (Woodard) and we are excited he is going to be a Golden Hurricane.”

Wheeler attended high school at St. George’s School in Middletown, Rhode Island, where he averaged 16 points and nine rebounds as a senior.

“Jaleel is a first-class person. He is very conscientious about his schoolwork, how he presents himself off the court, and how he handles people. He has been a really enjoyable person to have in our program the last two years,” Kilgore College coach Brian Hoberecht said. “He is very versatile as a player. He has a knack for scoring the basketball from many different areas on the floor. He has a great body with strength, so he can finish through contact. He has a nice mid-range game, and shot it at a high percentage from the 3-point line. He has a great personality, and I think the people of Tulsa will fall in love with him, as a person and as a player.”

Haith also announced that freshman guard Kajon Brown will leave the program to pursue other academic and athletic opportunities

2016 Tulsa Signing Class

Corey Henderson Jr.

Jaleel Wheeler

Eugene Artison

Curran Scott

Travis Atson

Joseph Battle

Martins Igbanu

Lawson Korita

Will Magnay