Three JUCO All-Americans highlight Lamar University hoop class
Published 12:18 am Friday, June 10, 2022
BEAUMONT – Lamar University head basketball coach Alvin Brooks is thrilled with his terrific incoming signing class after a tough season.
Lamar landed a huge signing class with the addition of seven players (four transfers and three signees).
They include Terry Anderson (6-6, F, Deer Park, Texas/Arkansas-Cossatot), Jakevion “Jay” Buckley (6-0, G/F, Shelbyville, Texas/Trinity Valley CC), Nate Calmese (6-2, G, Gilbert, Ariz./Mesquite HS), Adam Hamilton (6-9, C, Buckeye, Ariz./Glendale CC), Cody Pennebaker (6-5, G, Brooklyn Park, Minn./Park Center HS), Chris Pryor (5-11, G, DeSoto, Texas/McLennan CC) and Jason Thirdkill, Jr. (6-7, F, Dallas, Texas/Home School).
Each have announced intentions to continue their education with and play basketball for the Cardinals.
The highly touted recruiting class fills needs at every position consisting of three guards, two forwards, one center and one who can play guard and forward. It also includes three players who have received NJCAA All-America (Anderson, Hamilton and Pryor) honors prior to arriving at LU.
The incoming class also brings with it a national flair as the seven players represent three states. In addition to the Lone Star State (four), the class also represents Arizona (two) and Minnesota (one).
“From the very beginning, we’ve talked about restoring the tradition here and chasing championships,” said LU head coach Alvin Brooks.
“We wanted to get better with size, athleticism, skill, basketball IQ and championship quality guys. This class gives us a great deal of balance, from the standpoint of positions, size and skill, we have a little bit of everything in this class. In addition to that, this class also provides a good mixture of junior college veterans – two of which will have three years to play for us – to go along with three high school guys.
“I give a lot of credit to my staff, but I also have to recognize Dr. Taylor who really went out of his way to help us in recruiting,” added Brooks.
The class will bring immediate size and length to the roster, in addition to an added scoring punch. The incoming guards average 6-2, while the forwards and center combine to averaged 6-8.
One of three NJCAA All-Americans, Anderson was a double-double man for the University of Arkansas-Cossatot. He averaged better than 20 points and pulled down 13.4 rebounds per game this past season for the Colts.
A native of Houston, Anderson graduated from Deer Park High School where he played the forward spot at 6-3. Since graduation, Anderson has added three inches to his frame.
One of the top 30 junior college prospects in the nation, Anderson wrapped up the 2021-22 campaign by earning second-team All-America honors.
In addition to his ability to score and grab rebounds, Anderson was also key at getting his teammates involved in the scoring averaging six assists per game, all while shooting 50 percent from the field.
In addition to shooting nearly 77 percent from the free throw line, Anderson seemed to put up his best numbers against high-level competition – scoring 19 points against No. 1 Kilgore JC earlier this year.
A two-year letterwinner at Trinity Valley, Buckley really came into his own during his sophomore season. He averaged 18.4 points and 4.6 rebounds, all while ranking among the national leaders in assists (7.8 pg).
After getting his freshman season at TVCC back (due to COVID), Buckley stepped on the court to shoot better than 34 percent from long range in addition to knocking down 75 percent of his free throw attempts.
As a freshman, he was the starting point guard for TVCC, helping lead the team to the NJCAA National Tournament.
Calmese comes to the Golden Triangle after a standout prep career at Arizona’s Mesquite High School in Gilbert. A 4A All-State selection, Calmese scored better than 31 points per game while dishing out nearly five assists per contest on his way to Arizona Region Player of the Year and Arizona Finest Mixtape Player of the Year honors.
Calmese guided his prep squad to a 27-3 (.900) overall record and a perfect mark in district play. He is more than just a one-focus player. Calmese is also a threat on the defensive end of the court averaging better than five rebounds and nearly three steals per game during his senior season.
Calmese also has a flair for the dramatic. As a senior, he guided Mesquite to their first state title in school history. More impressive than the title, is how Mesquite won it.
With seconds on the clock and trailing by two, Calmese batted away a full court pass, grabbed the loose ball and heaved it in the air from beyond half court as the buzzer sounded. Moments later the ball snapped the net at the other end of the floor for the one-point victory. The play was recognized by ESPN as the SportsCenter Top 10 Play of the Day.
A 6-9, center from Glendale Community College, Hamilton comes to LU after a highly touted JUCO career. A defensive stalwart, Hamilton garnered second-team NJCAA All-America honors after averaging 18.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore, while also being named conference defensive player of the year after recording 3.5 blocks per game.
All of this was done while averaging less than 30 minutes per game. A two-year letterwinner for GCC, he closed out his career by earning first-team All-ACCAC honors after shooting nearly 53 percent from the field.
One of three prep signees in the class, Pennebaker comes to LU from Minnesota. Sharing a common bond with Calmese, Pennebaker also helped his prep squad to its first state title in program history, where he garnered all-tournament team honors. A second-team all-state selection, Pennebaker scored 1,000 points during his prep career and was a candidate for Mr. Basketball this past season.
Pryor went the junior college route after averaging 12 points, 6.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 2.3 steals per game in high school. His numbers have only jumped since his time in the JUCO ranks. After averaging 9.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and a team-high 4.0 assists per game as a freshman, Pryor watched his numbers jump by five points per game during the COVID season.
During his sophomore season, Pryor was named NTJCAC Player of the Year after averaging better than 12 points per game while shooting 54 percent from the field and better than 47 percent from three-point range. He did all this while averaging nearly four assists per game.
Pryor already has a connection with LU, having played with current Cardinal, Xavier Ball. Pryor will have two years of eligibility with the Cardinals.
A three-star prospect from Dallas, Texas, Thirdkill comes to LU as a highly sought-after target. Rated as the No. 17 prospect in the state, he is ranked as the No. 45 small forward in the country according to 247Sports.com, and the No. 168 recruit in the country according to PrepHoops.com.
He guided his prep squad to a conference title and a regional runner-up finish after averaging 25 points per game, while shooting 50 percent from the field and 70 percent from the free throw line.
Thirdkill is home schooled and plays for Just Prep Academy. He chose LU over offers from Texas A&M, LSU, TCU, Louisiana Tech, East Carolina, DePaul and UT Arlington.